Procedural Posture

Plaintiff hauler sought review of a decision of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County (California), which granted a judgment of nonsuit in favor of defendants, shippers, superintendent, and trucker, in the hauler’s action for breach of contract and wrongful inducement to breach of contract.

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Overview

The shippers hired the trucker and others while the hauler had the exclusive right to do such hauling, and ultimately ordered the hauler to get his trucks off their property. The shippers argued on appeal that a contract had not been proved, and that the contract was illegal because the hauler lacked the proper state permit. The superintendent and trucker contended that wrongful inducement to breach of contract had not been proved. The court affirmed in part and reversed in part. The court determined that the evidence would support a judgment on the contract claim against the shippers. The court noted that the hauler was licensed as a common carrier, and stated that the shippers were not in a position to challenge the hauler’s right to enforce the contract on the ground that he lacked a highway contract carrier permit, when they denied the existence of a contract and had themselves violated and disregarded its terms. The court stated that the fact that the superintendent discharged the hauler under instructions of his employers and requested kickbacks, and that the trucker continued to haul the shippers’ goods, failed to prove their acts to have caused the breach of contract.

Outcome

The court reversed the judgment of nonsuit on the hauler’s contract claim against the shippers, and affirmed the nonsuit on the claim of wrongful inducement to breach of contract against the superintendent and trucker.