Sometimes even the most obvious part of proving a case--like showing a copy of contract--can decide the legal matter. For example, take the case of JP Morgan Chase Bank v. Rabel. JP Morgan Chase, N.A. (“Chase”) is suing Ms. Rabel for breaching a loan contract. Ms. Rabel received a loan through Chase to finance her purchase of a car. In the beginning, Ms. Table made timely payments, but after approximately six months, the payments stopped and Ms. Rabel defaulted on her loan. Chase repossessed her car and sold it in order to get back some of the money owed by Ms. Rabel. Chase was able to resell the car for more than half its value but it was still owed money under the contract. Chase is seeking the remaining contractual amount it is owed under the contract with Ms. Rabel.
To have a breach of contract case, the plaintiff, the person who brought
the case to court, must prove three things. First, the plaintiff must
prove that there was a valid contract. Second, the plaintiff must show
that the person who brought the case to court has done their part under
the contract. And finally, the plaintiff must show that the person you
are suing, the defendant, actually breached the contract and caused the
In this matter, Chase failed to prove its case because it did not enter a copy of the contract into evidence. It is the court’s responsibility to listen to each side’s version of the case and decide which side is telling the truth and, according to the truth, which party should prevail under the law. Judges, and juries when applicable, use a variety of information to make its decision about who is telling the truth. This includes any verbal testimony such as statements from the parties and any witness, as well as any documents needed to prove a point such as contracts, warranties, and bank statements.
In order for nonverbal information to be considered by the court, it must be entered into evidence. To enter something into evidence means to provide a copy of the item (in this case the contract) to the court so the judge can review it. Some pieces of evidence are better than others. While verbal testimony from either party or their witnesses is allowed, it is treated differently than nonverbal evidence, such as a paper agreement. Both parties agree that there was a loan contract and the defendant, Ms. Rabel, admits to not completing the payments. More information is needed to decide whether there was a breach of the contract, however. Chase needs to prove that it performed all of its obligations under the contract and the only place to find that information is in the actual contract. Without a copy of the contract, the court cannot find in favor of Chase.
Chase also failed to prove that after the car was repossessed, it informed Ms. Rabel of the remaining costs she was expected to pay. Ms. Rabel claims she never received a bill after her car was repossessed, and therefore was unaware there was remaining debt. Chase's own witness admitted that while a bill was created, he could not be sure it was mailed properly and received by Ms. Rabel. Therefore, the court found that Ms. Rabel did not owe Chase any money and Chase lost its case.
Litigation is complicated, costly and time consuming. Before bringing a breach of contractsuit, you should provide the best evidence you have that illustrates your points. Having an attorney can help. If you have any contract questions, consider calling our Long Island business lawyer for assistance.
See Related Blog Posts:
When Are You Stopped from Bringing a Contract Claim
In New York Parties May be Liable for Breach of Contract When Relying on Oral Modifications