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WPI 302.08 Excuse of Performance—Interference With Contractual Performance

6A WAPRAC WPI 302.08Washington Practice Series TMWashington Pattern Jury Instructions--Civil

6A Wash. Prac., Wash. Pattern Jury Instr. Civ. WPI 302.08 (7th ed.)
Washington Practice Series TM
Washington Pattern Jury Instructions--Civil
April 2022 Update
Washington State Supreme Court Committee on Jury Instructions
Part XIII. Contracts
Chapter 302. Contracts—Performance and Breach
WPI 302.08 Excuse of Performance—Interference With Contractual Performance
If one party enters into a contract with another, there is an implied agreement by each to do nothing that will hinder, prevent, or interfere with the performance of the contract terms by the other.
If(name of party)proves by a preponderance of the evidence that(name of other party)interfered with or prevented(set forth performance or occurrence), then(name of party)was excused from performing [its] [his] [her] duty of(set forth performance, or add “showing that” a specified event occurred).
Use this instruction if there is an evidentiary basis for an affirmative defense of interference with contractual performance, or if a party alleges that its duty of performance or the occurrence of a condition precedent was excused by such interference. Use WPI 302.11 (Implied Duty of Good Faith and Fair Dealing), as appropriate, if there is a basis for finding that cooperation was required.
Use the last paragraph to instruct the jury regarding the application of the excuse of interference with contractual performance to the facts of the case.
Use this instruction with WPI 21.01 (Meaning of Burden of Proof—Preponderance of the Evidence).
In every contract there is an implied covenant or condition that the parties will “not interfere with each other's performance, but will cooperate in good faith.” Jones Assocs., Inc. v. Eastside Props., Inc., 41 Wn.App. 462, 471, 704 P.2d 681 (1985) (citing Lonsdale v. Chesterfield, 99 Wn.2d 353, 357, 662 P.2d 385 (1983)); see also Metro. Park Dist. of Tacoma v. Griffith, 106 Wn.2d 425, 437, 723 P.2d 1093 (1986).
However, the duty of good faith does not extend to obligate a party to accept a material change in the terms of the parties' contract. For further discussion about the implied duty of good faith, see the Comment to WPI 302.11 (Implied Duty of Good Faith and Fair Dealing).
When a party is prevented from performing a contract only by the acts of the other party, that party's non-performance is excused. “One who prevents a thing may not avail himself of the nonperformance which he has occasioned.” Payne v. Ryan, 183 Wash. 590, 597, 49 P.2d 53 (1935) (plaintiff excused from compliance with condition precedent); see Jones Assocs., 41 Wn.App. at 471.
See also Restatement (Second) of Contracts § 245 (1981): “Where a party's breach by non-performance contributes materially to the non-occurrence of a condition of one of his duties, the non-occurrence is excused.” If there is a claim by the breaching party that the breach did not “contribute materially” to the non-performance by the injured party, the breaching party has the burden of proof as to that proposition. Restatement (Second) of Contracts § 245 cmt. b (1981); Puget Sound Serv. Corp. v. Bush, 45 Wn.App. 312, 724 P.2d 1127 (1986).
For further discussion of the issues underlying this instruction, see DeWolf, Allen, & Caruso, 25 Washington Practice, Contract Law and Practice § 10:10 (3d ed.).
[Current as of April 2021.]
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