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Procedural Posture

Plaintiffs cattle ranch sellers and defendants intended purchasers both appealed from a judgment from the Superior Court of Los Angeles County (California), which awarded a judgment for the purchasers on a breach of contract claim, ruled against the purchasers on their cross-complaint for breach of two subsidiary contracts for the sale of cattle, and denied recovery on the sellers’ conversion and fraud causes of action.

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A ranch seller brought an action for breach of contract, conversion, and fraud after the intended purchaser did not purchase the ranch but did purchase many of the seller’s cattle. The trial court awarded damages to the seller for the breach of contract but denied the conversion and fraud claims. The trial court also ruled against the purchaser on his cross-claim for breach of contract as it pertained to the purchase of the cattle. The parties cross-appealed and the court affirmed in part and reversed in part. The court found that the seller did not present substantial evidence to support the value that he alleged for the ranch. The court reasoned that based on evidence of the cattle’s value, the contract value of the ranch appeared to be overstated. Therefore, the court found that the guess at the value of the ranch as of the date of breach proffered by the seller could not support an award of damages. The court also found that the number of cattle removed from the ranch by the purchaser exceeded the number specified in the contract, and that the purchaser only paid the contract price. Therefore, the court held that the purchaser converted those cattle for which he had not paid.


Judgment awarding the seller damages for breach of contract was reversed. The judgment denying the seller damages for conversion is reversed with directions to enter judgment awarding the seller damages plus interest.