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When engaging in commerce, businesses and individuals invariably enter into contracts with other parties. Unfortunately, the other party may break that contract during the course of doing business. A breach of contract can have significant impacts, and those impacts may warrant litigation.


A breach of contract occurs when one of the signing parties in the contract fails to meet their contractual obligations. There are several ways that a contract can be breached, but they are generally categorized in one of four ways: actual vs. anticipatory and minor vs. material.


  • An actual breach occurs when one party fulfills their contractual obligations while the other fails to do so.

  • An anticipatory breach involves one party refusing to fulfill their agreement before the date due. For example, if one party agrees to sell property to a buyer in seven days but changes their mind after a couple days.

  • A minor breach involves non-compliance with a minor and non-essential aspect of a contract agreement. Often times, the parties are able to repair the breach and the contract can be fulfilled without harm arising from the breach.

  • Finally, a material breach is a serious violation of the terms of the contract. Generally, the non-offending party is excused from the obligations that they have while retaining the right to sue the offending party.


Wisconsin law provides remedies for a breach of contract in order to discourage breaches and provide compensation to the party that holds up their end of the contract. The non-breaching party is entitled to compensatory, liquated, punitive, and nominal damages.


  • Compensatory damages are a reimbursement for direct losses that result from the breach along with any indirect causes such as loss of potential profits.

  • Liquidated damages are only available in the case that the contract has specifically included terms that allow for them. They are limited only to what has been laid out in the contract.

  • Punitive damages are rare and should not be expected in most cases. However, if actions taken by the offending party related to the contract involve some sort of fraud or other wrongful act, punitive damages may be awarded.

  • Nominal damages are awarded if the injured party has not suffered financial loss but a breach had still occurred.


When another party fails to meet its obligations laid out in the terms of the contract, a Levine Lyon & Eisberner LLC attorney can help you resolve the dispute. While not every breach of contract will justify expensive litigation, our attorneys can help you discern if a negotiated settlement or litigation will be more beneficial in giving you the compensation you deserve.