Wholesale Sand & Gravel, Inc. v. Decker
Supreme Judicial Court of Maine, 1993.
630 A.2d 710.

Facts:

Decker hired Wholesale to build him a driveway. Although a completion date wasn’t specified in the contract, Wholesale’s president, Goodenow, believed he had 90 days to complete the work (that was what the window for payment was). Nonetheless, he told Decker that it would be finished in a week.

  • Wholesale immediately experienced problems during construction because of how wet the ground was, and decided to wait until it dried out before continuing.
  • Decker noticed the lack of activity and told them that he needed the driveway completed.
  • Goodenow told him twice that they would “get right on it,” but they didn’t.
  • Decker gave them one final chance after Goodenow said they would be there the next day, but they never showed.
  • Decker then terminated the contract and Wholesale sued.

History:

The trial court ruled in favor of Decker, holding that Wholesale’s actions constituted an anticipatory repudiation.

Issue:

Did Wholesale’s actions constituted an anticipatory repudiation?

Holding:

Yes. Affirmed.

Reasoning:

  • After the second week of work, Wholesale removed its equipment and didn’t return.
  • Twice they promised they would “get right on it” but never did.
  • Finally, when told they would be fired if they didn’t show on the following day, they still didn’t appear.

Anticipatory repudiation: A definite and unequivocal manifestation of intention on the part of the repudiator that he will not render the promised performance when the time fixed for it in the contract arrives.