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Contract Freighters, Inc. v. J.B. Hunt Transp., Inc.

ELR Citation: 31 ELR 20543
Nos. No. 00-1225, 245 F.3d 660/52 ERC 1349/(8th Cir., 04/03/2001)

The court affirms a district court decision that a Georgia trucking company breached a contract to purchase a Missouri trucking company's terminal facility when it refused to close the sale of the facility due to diesel fuel contamination at the facility. The contract provided that if an environmental audit revealed any problems at the facility, the Missouri company had the sole option of remedying the problem or terminating the contract. When the audit revealed contamination at the facility, the Missouri company reported the contamination to the state environmental agency, but before the agency responded, the Georgia company refused to close the sale. Subsequently, the agency issued the Missouri company a certificate of remediation because the site contamination was below diesel fuel cleanup levels. The Missouri company then sold the facility to another buyer and brought a breach of contract action against the Georgia company. The Georgia company argued that the agency certification did not relieve the Missouri corporation of the contractual obligation to remedy the contamination.

The court first holds that the contract unambiguously provided that the Missouri company's only obligation was to remedy contamination in accordance with a directive from the state agency. On the date the Georgia company stated it would not close the sale, there was no directive to remediate the site. In fact, before the closing date, the agency found that no remediation was required. Thus, the Missouri company did all that it was contractually obligated to do. Moreover, the court holds that the contract had not expired before the agency issued its certification. In addition, the court holds that the district court properly calculated damages and did not err in awarding prejudgment interest.

Counsel for Appellee
Daniel E. Scott
Copeland & Scott
614 S. Pearl Ave., Joplin MO 64801
(417) 623-7200/8182

Counsel for Appellant
Leland Corley
Lewis & Rice
1010 Walnut St., Kansas City MO 64106
(816) 421-2500

McMillian, J. Before Arnold and Bye, JJ.