Jacob & Youngs, Inc. v. Kent

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Jacob & Youngs v. Kent
Seal of the New York Court of Appeals.svg
Court New York Court of Appeals
Full case name Jacob & Youngs, Incorporated, v. George E. Kent
Argued December 1 1920
Decided January 25 1921
Citation(s) 230 N.Y. 239; 129 N.E. 889; 1921 N.Y. LEXIS 828; 23 A.L.R. 1429
Case history
Prior action(s) Judgment for plaintiff, New York County Supreme Court; reversed on appeal, 175 N.Y.S. 281 (N.Y. App. Div. 1919)
Owner of a home could not recover from the construction company as a result of a breach of contract due to the constructor having completed substantial performance. New York Supreme Court Appellate Division affirmed as modified.
Court membership
Chief Judge Frank H. Hiscock
Associate Judges Benjamin Cardozo, Chester B. McLaughlin, John W. Hogan, Frederick E. Crane, Cuthbert W. Pound, William S. Andrews
Case opinions
Majority Cardozo, joined by Hiscock, Hogan, Crane
Dissent McLaughlin, joined by Pound, Andrews

Jacob & Youngs, Inc. v. Kent, 230 N.Y. 239 (1921) is a famous American contract law case of the New York Court of Appeals with a majority opinion by Judge Benjamin N. Cardozo. It dealt with the matters of material breach and substantial performance.[1]


The plaintiff built a house for the defendant under contract. The defendant learned that some of the piping, instead of being made in Reading, was Cohoes piping, contrary to one of the conditions in the contract. The Defendant asked the plaintiff via the architect to do the work all over again supported by the perfect tender rule. Because the pipes had already been encased within the walls except in a few places where it had to be exposed, to replace the Cohoes Pipe with the contracted-for Reading Pipe would have meant more than the substitution of other pipe. Plaintiff would have had to demolish, at great expense, substantial parts of the completed structure. The plaintiff left the work untouched, and asked for a certificate that the final payment was due (arguing substantial performance) which was refused by Kent.

Jacob & Youngs then filed suit to collect the remaining balance. The trial court ruled in favor of Kent, which was reversed on appeal and a new trial was ordered.


The plaintiff builder won and obtained a monetary judgment. Plaintiff did not have to replace the Cohoes pipe with the Reading pipe.


When the defect is insignificant, the court will find that there was substantial performance and excuses the breach of using the same type and quality of pipe which parties had agreed were the same except for brand name. Measure of damages is not the cost to rip out the old pipe and install the new, but the difference in value which in this case is zero dollars.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Jacob Youngs v Kent". Courts.state.ny.us. Retrieved 2012-10-10.