Dove v. Rose Acre Farms 434 N.E.2d 931 (1982)

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  • Dove entered into a bonus system with his employer, including working 10 weeks straight without being late or absent.
  • Dove’s performance was perfect for 9.5 weeks.
  • Dove was sick for 2 days and so lost the bonus.
  • He sued arguing, essentially, that his performance was nearly perfect and his failure was out of his control.


  • Can you have substantial performance of an entire contract where the contract stipulates you must complete in full?


  • The Plaintiff knew the terms of the contract when he agreed to them; if he thought they were unnecessarily harsh he could have refused to participate, but he didn’t.
  • Fighting tardiness and absenteeism was a central theme of the bonus program and so it cannot be removed
  • There was no fraud on the part of Rose Acre Farms that would make the contract unfair.
  • You cannot use “impossibility” to sue for the value of the contract, only against paying damages.


  • This case is a demonstration of the principle that you cannot have substantial performance,

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