John D. Hollingsworth on Wheels, Inc. v. Arkon Corp., 21937

Decision Date10 June 1983
Docket NumberNo. 21937,21937
Citation279 S.C. 183,305 S.E.2d 71
CourtSouth Carolina Supreme Court
Parties, 36 UCC Rep.Serv. 549 JOHN D. HOLLINGSWORTH ON WHEELS, INC., Appellant-Respondent, v. ARKON CORPORATION, Respondent-Appellant.

Wesley M. Walker, James H. Watson, O. Jack Taylor, Jr., and Mark R. Holmes, all of Leatherwood, Walker, Todd & Mann, Greenville, for appellant-respondent.

David L. Freeman and Carl F. Muller, both of Wyche, Burgess, Freeman & Parham, Greenville, for respondent-appellant.

LEWIS, Chief Justice:

This action arose out of a contract between John D. Hollingsworth On Wheels, Inc., and Arkon Corporation, under which Hollingsworth agreed to sell certain machinery for use by Arkon in its manufacture of nonwoven products. The machinery involved in the contract was never delivered by Hollingsworth. As a result of differences between the parties over the cause for the failure to deliver, Hollingsworth brought this action for rescission of the contract; and Arkon counterclaimed for incidental and consequential damages resulting from an alleged breach of the contract by Hollingsworth.

Based upon voluminous evidence, much of which is subject to a protective order by reason of commercial security, the Master, to whom all issues were referred for decision, concluded that Hollingsworth was not entitled to rescission but instead had itself breached the contract, entitling Arkon to damages in the amount of $1,918,043.00, for which judgment was entered against Hollingsworth. Hollingsworth has appealed from the judgment in its entirety. Arkon cross-appeals, contending that the damage award was inadequate.

Direct appeal to this Court from the report of the Master was provided by agreement of the parties and order of the circuit court under Section 14-11-90, South Carolina Code of Laws (1982 cum. supp.). We affirm the judgment with reduction in the amount of the award.

We find that the Master correctly determined all issues pertaining to the contract but awarded damages that were not established with the reasonable certainty required by the law of this State. A previous appeal in this case, Hollingsworth v. Arkon, 273 S.C. 461, 257 S.E.2d 165, established that Arkon has waived its right to jury trial by electing to assert its counterclaim in response to Hollingsworth's equitable action. Consistent with that opinion, we have applied the scope of review appropriate for equitable matters tried by a judge alone. Townes Associates Ltd. v. City of Greenville, 266 S.C. 81, 86, 221 S.E.2d 773. Accordingly we have reduced the award based upon our view of the preponderance of the evidence.

In May 1976, the parties entered into an "Agreement for Sale of Machinery" by the terms of which appellant Hollingsworth would sell to respondent Arkon certain pieces of machinery used in the manufacture of nonwoven textiles. Specifically at issue is the promise to deliver and install two 4-meter cards, equipment used to disentangle batches of synthetic fiber and prepare them for later stages of processing. Evidently, carding equipment of this width represented an innovation for the nonwoven textile industry. Delivery of the cards was scheduled for November 1977, approximately eighteen months after signing of the agreement. In the interim, Hollingsworth was to lease 2.2-meter cards at a nominal fee for overlapping periods of time.

In addition to delivery and installation of the equipment just described, Hollingsworth expressly assumed responsibility "for all changes or modifications to the equipment furnished which may be necessary to achieve the quality and production as set forth in the standards and specifications hereto attached and incorporated by reference as a part hereof." The standards and specifications were attached to the agreement and explicitly set out requirements of speed, tensile strength ratio, appearance (by sample) and weight to be measured by a "finished" product or nonwoven web.

On its face the contract reveals no ambiguities. The record on this appeal exceeds four thousand pages and contains a dozen or more drafts of the agreement carefully negotiated over a period of approximately four months. Despite the disastrous course of misunderstandings which followed upon this agreement, we cannot accept the appellant's contention that the contract was in any way ambiguous or failed to state the intention of the parties at the time.

For better or for worse, Hollingsworth assumed sole responsibility for meeting the standards and specifications of the contract. The evidence amply supports the conclusion that the 2.2-meter cards failed to achieve the promised results. The 4-meter cards were never delivered.

We are in complete agreement with the Master's finding that Hollingsworth was not entitled to rescission but instead had itself breached the contract.

In an action for breach of a sales contract, an aggrieved buyer may be entitled to incidental and consequential damages as defined by Section 36-2-715, Code of Laws of South Carolina. The evidence persuades us that this is a proper case for an award of both. Unfortunately, the Master accepted and applied certain formulations of the respondent which do not comport with the standard of "reasonable certainty" which has governed the determination of consequential damages in this State both before and since the adoption of the Uniform Commercial...

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5 cases
  • Edens v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fourth Circuit
    • December 7, 1988
    ...are well recognized as a species of consequential damages" in breach of contract actions. John D. Hollingsworth on Wheels, Inc. v. Arkon Corp., 279 S.C. 183, 186, 305 S.E.2d 71, 73 (1983). MURNAGHAN, Circuit Judge, concurring in part and dissenting in part: I agree with the majority that th......
  • Smith v. Walt Bennett Ford, Inc.
    • United States
    • Arkansas Supreme Court
    • November 1, 1993
    ...S.W.2d 156 (1992); AM/PM Franchise Ass'n v. Atlantic Richfield Co., 526 Pa. 110, 584 A.2d 915 (1990); John D. Hollingsworth on Wheels v. Arkon Corp., 279 S.C. 183, 305 S.E.2d 71 (1983). Thus, we reach our conclusion that lost profits are recoverable under the Act as "actual damages" provide......
  • Drews Co., Inc. v. Ledwith-Wolfe Associates, Inc.
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • June 8, 1988
    ...breach have long been recognized as a species of recoverable consequential damages in this state. Hollingsworth on Wheels, Inc. v. Arkon Corp., 279 S.C. 183, 305 S.E.2d 71 (1983); South Carolina Finance Corp. v. West Side Finance Co., supra. The issue is more difficult, however, when a new ......
  • Beck v. Clarkson
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • September 13, 1989
    ...considered as a matter of evidentiary sufficiency rather than an automatic bar to recovery. See John D. Hollingsworth on Wheels, Inc. v. Arkon Corporation, 279 S.C. 183, 305 S.E.2d 71 (1983); Bryson v. Arcadian Shores, Inc., 273 S.C. 471, 257 S.E.2d 233 The Supreme Court removed all doubt a......
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