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Legal Memorandum: Enforceable Contract – Burden of Proof

Issue: What must a party seeking to enforce a contract in North Carolina prove?

Area of Law: Business Organizations & Contracts
Keywords: Valid and enforceable contract; Breach of contract; Burden of proof
Jurisdiction: North Carolina
Cited Cases: 40 N.C. App. 681; 22 N.C. App. 519; 58 S.E.2d 743; 72 F. Supp. 2d 576; 577 S.E.2d 175; 79 S.E.2d 239; 152 N.C. App. 687; 207 S.E.2d 323; 231 N.C. 722; 590 S.E.2d 313; 239 N.C. 73; 151 N.C. App. 133; 162 N.C. App. 285; 129 N.C. App. 525; 156 N.C. App. 556; 500 S.E.2d 108; 30 N.C. App. 598
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 02/01/2006

A party seeking to enforce a contract has the burden of proving the essential elements of a valid contract, i.e. that there was a binding agreement involving mutual assent, legal capacity, consideration, and a legal bargain.  Orthodontic Ctrs. of Am., Inc. v. Hanachi, 151 N.C. App. 133, 564 S.E.2d 573 (2002).  To succeed on a breach of contract claim under North Carolina law, a plaintiff must ultimately prove that (1) the parties had a valid and enforceable contract, and (2) the defendant breached the contract.  Forrest Drive Associates v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 72 F. Supp. 2d 576 (M.D.N.C. 1999); Iwtmm, Inc. v. Forest Hills Rest Home, 156 N.C. App. 556, 577 S.E.2d 175 (2003).  In addition, the plaintiff must be able to prove the specific provisions of the contract it claims have been breached, the facts constituting the breach, and the amount of damages resulting from the breach.  Wheels Sports Group, Inc. v. Solar Communications, Inc., 194 F.R.D. 527 (M.D.N.C. 1999); Jackson v. Associated Scaffolders & Equip. Co., Inc., 152 N.C. App. 687, 568 S.E.2d 666 (2002).

Although a contract that is not required to be in writing may be partly written and partly oral,

. . . where the parties have deliberately put their engagements in writing in such terms as import a legal obligation free of uncertainty, it is presumed the writing was intended by the […]

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