Los Angeles, CA asked in Civil Litigation, Contracts and Mergers & Acquisitions for California

Q: Is a Contract automatically canceled that do not have a force majeure clause language in the contract?

I have a wedding scheduled for the end of this year in Los Angeles county CA. However California restrictions do not allow any indoor events. My contract do not have any Force majeure language. If the venue cannot host my event do to the COVID-19 pandemic Restrictions or if it is unreasonable To Try and reschedule since there is no end in sight per our Governor and a possible 2nd wave Am I automatically due a full refund? If I take it to court would it fall under the Force majeure or frustration clause? Lastly are there any lawyers that would take this case here?

2 Lawyer Answers
Maurice Mandel II
Maurice Mandel II
Answered
  • Newport Beach, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: I know weddings can be very expensive, however, it may be difficult to find an attorney by posting a question on this site, Our TOS do not allow us to write a response that solicits you to call us. You have to find an attorney and call them. Next, there is no "automatic cancellation." You need to take appropriate action to rescind the contract and request a full refund. From the postings on this site to date, this could be easy or very difficult. You can resort to small Claims if the value is less than $10,000.00, and each vendor is a separate defendant, which can be sued separately. My suggestions- First try to get a reschedule if possible. If you must get married on a particular date, have this be your wedding reception post. Not quite the same but you can still have a great time. If the venue and the vendors will not work with you to reschedule, send them notices of rescission- terminating the contracts and requesting a full refund of the deposits. Send Certified Mail, RRR for proof of delivery. Give them 30 days to refund your money, and if they don't, take them to court.

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Nathan Wirtschafter
Nathan Wirtschafter
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Encino, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Based on the facts as you present them, here are some points to consider:

1. There is a lawful contract for the venue to host the wedding at the end of this year.

2. If there is no force majeure clause excusing performance, the venue may be in breach in contract if it does not host the wedding at the end of the year.

3. The venue may argue that government regulations make it impossible to perform.

“Frustration of Purpose,” also called “Impossibility of Performance,” is a defense to an action for breach of contract. The Restatement Second of Contracts, Discharge by Supervening Frustration, Section 265, states that:

“Where, after a contract is made, a party's principal purpose is substantially frustrated without his fault by the occurrence of an event the non-occurrence of which was a basic assumption on which the contract was made, his remaining duties to render performance are discharged, unless the language or the circumstances indicate the contrary.”

4. Then, the question is whether the imposition of government regulations, such as a lockdown in response to a pandemic, is a foreseeable event.

5. Finally, "frustration of purpose" can be a temporary event.

The Restatement Second of Contracts, Section 269, states that:

“Impracticability of performance or frustration of purpose that is only temporary suspends the obligor’s duty to perform while the impracticability or frustration exists but does not discharge his duty or prevent it from arising unless his performance after the cessation of the impracticability or frustration would be materially more burdensome than had there been no impracticability or frustration.”

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