If you have a veterinary practice and are hiring an associate or forming a partnership, having well-conceived agreements is necessary to protect the interests of all parties. If a breach of contract occurs, having an experienced veterinary attorney is essential.
At Mahan Law, we represent veterinary professionals around the country in breach of contract claims. We work to settle contract disputes out of court but will litigate, if necessary, to achieve the best results. Whatever side of the dispute you are on, you can trust us to protect your rights and interests. Contact our office today for a consultation.
Breach of Veterinary Employment Agreements
Veterinary associate agreements are necessary to clarify the employment relationship and address several issues, such as:
This is the period during which the agreement is binding; the term may be annual or perpetual. Annual contracts are often for 12 months, either expire or renew after that period, and include a stipulation that either party must give prior notice of their intent not to renew.
A perpetual veterinary associate agreement does not have an expiration date, but stipulates a time period for either party to provide notice to sever the contract, and includes incentives to promote a long working relationship (e.g. performance bonuses, buy-in options)
The contract will specify the associate’s duties, including the specific veterinary services they will perform and scheduling (e.g. daily, weekend, and emergency on-call hours). Scheduling terms are often general to give the practice flexibility to allow for time off and extended absences of one or more associates or employees.
Compensation may include salary, benefits, and non-monetary compensation, such as paid time off, vacation and sick leave, retirement, health, and life insurance benefits, and reimbursement for advanced training.
Non-compete provisions are not enforceable in all states. Even in states that recognize such restrictive covenants, a non-compete provision must be limited in scope and duration. Similarly, a non-solicitation clause may state that a departing veterinary associate will not treat the practice’s clients within a reasonable period.
A veterinary contract should specify the reasons for terminating the associate and the process for termination.
A breach of a veterinary contract can occur when an associate leaves the practice before the term ends, fails to perform their duties, or violates a non-compete or non-solicitation provision. Similarly, a veterinary practice owner can breach an employment agreement by failing to provide the agreed-upon compensation or benefits or terminating the contract without notice.
Breach of Veterinary Partnership Agreements
If your veterinary practice is structured as a partnership, having a comprehensive partnership agreement can help to avoid disputes. A well-conceived veterinary partnership agreement will clarify the objectives of the business, the individual contributions of partners, and each partner’s rights and responsibilities. The terms must be as detailed as possible, including:
- Duration of the partnership
- Capital contributions
- Profit and loss distributions
- Decision-making authority
- Dispute resolution
A breach of a partnership agreement can occur when one of the partners enters a vendor or service contract without the approval of the other partners or engages in misconduct (e.g, embezzlement, misappropriation of funds, or misuse of assets for personal gain). A breach can also occur if profits or resources are not allocated according to the terms of the agreement.
Proving Breach Of a Veterinary Contract
A plaintiff must prove the following elements to have a valid breach of contract claim:
- There was a valid and enforceable contract between the parties
- The plaintiff performed their contractual obligations
- The defendant failed to materially perform their obligations under the contract
- Actual damages, such as monetary losses, directly resulted from the breach
The veterinary attorneys at Mahan Law have the skills and experience to prove breach of contract claims. You can depend on our legal team to help enforce the agreement and protect your rights and interests. We offer offensive and defensive capabilities to veterinary professionals in contract disputes and have an impressive track record of success in negotiations and litigation.
Remedies for Breach of Contract
Depending on the circumstances, the following damages may be available for breach of contract:
- Compensatory damages to restore the non-breaching party to the same financial position they would have been in had the other party not breached the contract.
- Consequential damages will compensate the non-breaching party for future losses that were reasonably foreseeable as a result of the breach (e.g. reimbursement for lost business).
- Liquidated damages if the contract includes a provision for damages that may be difficult to quantify in the event of a breach.
Additional remedies for breach of a veterinary contract include:
- Specific performance is awarded when monetary damages are not feasible; the court will order the breaching party to fulfill or perform its obligations under the contract.
- Rescission is only granted when the non-breaching party has no other adequate remedy; the court will invalidate the contract and return the parties to the position they were in before signing the agreement.
Resolving Breach of Contract Claims for Veterinary Professionals
At Mahan Law, we work to resolve breach of contract claims quickly and amicably, but we prepare each case for trial to achieve the best possible outcome. Whether you are seeking damages for breach of contract or facing allegations of breaching an agreement, we can help. Contact us today so we can start working on your claim.