Brian Constr. & Dev. Co. v. Brighenti
176 Conn. 162, 405 A.2d 72 (Conn. 1978)
developer, Bennett, signed a contract to build a post office in
Connecticut.Bennett turned around and subcontracted with Brian to build the building.Brian then subcontracted with Brighenti to do excavation, paving
and grading work.Brighenti
would be paid $104k.
had done some test bores and sent the results to Brighenti prior to
finalizing the contract.They said
that the land would be easy to excavate.However, when Brighenti started, they found a bunch of
buried rubble at the site that would have considerably increased the costs
went back to Bennett, Brian and the post office, who all agreed that the
rubbled neded to be removed, but refused to authorize more money to pay
for it.Brighenti stopped
contract had a clause saying that changes to the contract (change
orders) had to be in writing, and had
to be approved by the building owners.
agreed to a separate (oral) subcontract with Brighenti to remove the rubble.
is this new contract different than a modification to the original
contract (which had to be in writing)?To be honest, it's mostly a semantic difference.
hired a new subcontractor
and sued for breach of contract.
Court found for Brighenti, saying that the original contract had been
invalidated by the new contract.Brian appealed.
Appellate Court found that since the new contract involved consideration on both sides, it was a perfectly valid and
a party agrees to perform an obligation for another to whom that
obligation is already owed, although for lesser renumeration, the second
agreement does not constitute a valid, binding contract.However, where the subsequent
agreement imposed upon the one seeking greater compensation an
additional obligation or burden not previously assumed, the agreement,
supported by consideration, is valid and binding."
is the same ruling as in Alaska Packers' Ass'n v. Domenico (117 F. 99 (9th Cir. 1902)), but in that case, there was no additional
burden, Domenico et.al. just wanted more money for the same job.Here, the nature of the work had
basic rule here is that if you are going to modify a contract, there needs
to be consideration on both
modifications are just naked promises and are not enforceable.Contract modifications
(even oral ones) that involve more work for more pay are perfectly