Legal Memorandum: Breach of a Bailment Contract in FL

Issue: Under Florida law, what must a plaintiff show to prevail on a claim for breach of a bailment contract?

Area of Law: Business Organizations & Contracts
Keywords: Bailment Contract; Breach
Jurisdiction: Florida
Cited Cases: 135 So. 2d 417; 172 So. 849; 192 So. 324; 171 P.2d 405; 586 So. 2d 876
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 02/01/2001

The court in S/M Indus., Inc. v. Hapag-Lloyd A.G., 586 So. 2d 876 (Ala. 1991) determined that there was an enforceable bailment contract between the carrier and the warehouse, notwithstanding the fact that the warehouse would be paid by the buyer when the goods were picked up by the buyer.  A bailment contract is created when personally is delivered “for some particular purpose, or on mere deposit, upon a contract, express or implied, that after the purpose had been fulfilled it shall be redelivered to the person who delivered it, or otherwise dealt with according to his directions, or kept until he reclaims it, as the case may be.”  Dunham v. State, 192 So. 324, 326 (Fla. 1939) (quoting 8 C.J.S. Bailments § 1).

The warehouse may try to argue, as the defendant in S/M Industries did, that there was not sufficient consideration between it and the shipper to support an enforceable contract; however, the requirements for consideration in Florida are minimal.  It is sufficient if the promisee “does something that he is not legally bound to do.”  Mangus v. Present, 135 So. 2d 417, 418 (Fla. 1961).  See also Rodriguez v. Powell, 172 So. 849, 850 (Fla. 1937) (a voluntary act of plaintiff from which defendant derives a benefit may support a contract).  Because the shipper placed the coffee with the warehouse facility in return for the facility’s promise that it would not release […]

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