Contracts – Damages – Punitive Damages Awarded for Breach Accompanied by Fraudulent Act
Defendants contracted to purchase a crop of alfalfa from plaintiff, harvesting and processing to be done by defendants and payment to be ascertained according to the processed weight of the alfalfa. When defendants harvested the entire crop but failed to pay for the major part of it, plaintiff brought action for breach of contract. In addition to the non-payment, plaintiff alleged fraud on defendants’ part in falsifying weight records and in otherwise scheming to cheat and defraud him. On defendants’ appeal from a judgment including both compensatory and punitive damages, held, affirmed. Although punitive damages are not ordinarily recoverable in an action for breach of contract, they may be awarded if the breach is accompanied by a fraudulent act, wanton in character and maliciously intentional. Whitehead v. Allen, (N.M. 1957) 313 P. (2d) 335.