Assuming that one party proves that the other party has breached a valid and enforceable contract, what amount of money can the non-breaching party recover from the breaching party? When explaining how a Tennessee court will approach the question of what amount of money to award someone for a breach of contract, it is helpful to think of two broad categories of damages under Tennessee law that come into play in breach of contract cases.
What are those categories? The first is the category of expectation damages. The second is the category of reliance damages. An astute client, who has lost money because of a breach of contract, might ask the following questions (all of which I will attempt to answer):
What damages are expectation damages and what damages are reliance damages?
- What is the difference between the two categories?
- How does a Tennessee court decide which category of damages to award?
- Which category of damages is better for an injured party?
Expectation damages are designed to put the non-breaching party in the same position that he or she would have been in had the contract not been breached. Expectation damages, in my experience, are the most common category of damages awarded in breach of contract cases in Tennessee.
In Tennessee, generally, if the court can award expectation damages for breach of contract, it will. Also, generally, if the court determines that the injured party is not entitled to expectation damages, but only to reliance damages, the injured party will get a monetary award that is less than the amount for which it had hoped (and, very possibly, an award less than the money it might have actually made but for the breach of contract).