ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Friday, January 26, 2018

When a contract is unambiguous, then it gets enforced

A recent case out of Michigan, Dalton Township v. Charter Township of Muskegon, No. 335743 (behind paywall), involved a dispute over the payment of “hydrant fees.” The defendant ceased paying the fees, alleging that it was not required to pay them under the parties’ contract, and the plaintiffs sued. The defendant won summary judgment on the issue based on a plain language reading of the contract. Reiterating that “unambiguous contractual language must be enforced as written,” the court embarked on a close reading of the contract and determined that nowhere did it require the defendant to pay the disputed fees. There was no mention of any “hydrant fees” in the contract and the clauses that discussed revenue and expenses never mentioned any such fees. The court found that this was unambiguous and must be enforced as written and would not consider any extrinsic evidence on the issue.

(There was another issue in the case regarding whether disputes under the contract could be brought to court. The court concluded that it could resolve the dispute under the contract’s terms.)

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