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Not a Party to a New York Contract? Usually Not Guilty of Breach


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1/1/2016
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Typically, New York courts will not find in favor of a plaintiff in a breach of contract action that is pursued against a non-contracting third party. This is because the general rule in New York is that a contractor does not owe a duty to a non-contracting third party. Put more simply, you cannot be held accountable for breaching a contract into which you did not enter. There are exceptions to this general rule, however. 

In a recent lawsuit filing against music star Taylor Swift, the singer is accused of breaching a contract with a ticketing company. Under the agreement, Swift was to perform a show on a specified date, and was paid in advance to do so. The show was later cancelled, and the company reimbursed people who had already paid for tickets. Swift argues that the lawsuit revolves around the contract between the ticketing company and the credit card processing company. Since she was not a party to that contract, she cannot have breached the agreement. She considers herself a non-contracting third party.

Under New York law, for a plaintiff to qualify for one of the exceptions to this rule, a party must show one of the following:

  • The contracting party completely took over the other party’s duty to maintain the premises safely.
  • The plaintiff was injured as a result of reasonable reliance on the defendant’s continued performance of the obligations outlined under the contract.
  • The defendant was creating an unreasonable risk of harm to others while affirmatively engaged in discharging the obligations under the contract.

To learn more about pursuing a claim following a New York breach of contract, contact an experienced New York business litigation lawyer today. Call our office at (888) 497-3410 for a free consultation.



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