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Jader Enterprises, L.L.C. v. Buhr

Court of Appeals of Iowa

October 9, 2019

JADER ENTERPRISES, L.L.C., Plaintiff-Appellant/Cross-Appellee,
v.
DONALD BUHR, Defendant-Appellee/Cross-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Fayette County, John J. Bauercamper, Judge.

         Jader Enterprises, L.L.C. appeals, and Donald Buhr cross-appeals, from the district court's ruling on a breach-of-contract action.

          Jesse M. Marzen of Marzen Law Office, Waverly, for appellant.

          James S. Updegraff, West Union, for appellee.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., Doyle, J., and Vogel, S.J. [*]

          VAITHESWARAN, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         Jader Enterprises, L.L.C. (Jader) performed construction work for Donald Buhr but did not receive full payment for its services. Jader sued Buhr for breach of an oral contract. Buhr counterclaimed for damages resulting from what he characterized as shoddy workmanship. The district court found "it was impossible for either party to fully perform this project." The court denied the claim and counterclaim.

         On appeal and cross-appeal, the parties disagree with the district court's finding that the contract was impossible to perform. We will affirm the finding only if substantial evidence supports it. See EnviroGas, LP. v. Cedar Rapids/Linn Cty. Solid Waste Agency, 641 N.W.2d 776, 781 (Iowa 2002).

         "The doctrine of impossibility of performance is recognized in Iowa as an excuse for nonperformance generally where that which has been promised becomes objectively impossible to perform due to no fault of the nonperforming party." Nora Springs Coop. Co. v. Brandau, 247 N.W.2d 744, 747 (Iowa 1976) (emphasis removed); accord DuTrac Cmty. Credit Union v. Radiology Grp. Real Estate, L.C., 891 N.W.2d 210, 217 (Iowa 2017). "Impossibility of performance refers to extraordinary circumstances which could not have been anticipated and which arise without fault on the part of the one seeking to avoid performance." Associated Grocers of Iowa Coop., Inc. v. West, 297 N.W.2d 103, 108 (Iowa 1980). The district court quoted Uniform Jury Instruction 2400.9 on impossibility of performance, as follows:

Instruction No. 2400.9 defines "impossibility of performance" as extraordinary circumstances which:
[a] Prevent a person from carrying out the terms of the contract;
[b]Could not reasonably have been anticipated; and
[c]Are not the fault of that party.
The appropriate remedy is usually rescission of the contract which will return both parties to the position they were in prior to making the contract, with due ...

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