No Uncertain Terms

The court reversed and rendered judgment in a breach of contract action related to a letter of intent (“LOI”) to acquire the stock of a corporation. Corilant and FFSS executed an LOI for Corilant’s acquisition of FFSS’s stock. The LOI provided for future “Definitive Agreements” memorializing the precise terms and conditions of the sale. FFSS scuttled the deal before executing the Definitive Agreements. Corilant sued for breach of the LOI and a jury awarded it $1.8 million.

On appeal, the court held that the LOI was not an enforceable contract because the essential terms of two of its provisions were uncertain. First, the LOI provided for structured earn-out payments to Corilant but failed to sufficiently characterize the payments. The evidence showed the parties’ lack of mutual understanding with respect to this provision. Second, the LOI provided that FFSS’s Chairman would continue to be involved in management of the company but failed to specify the terms of his employment. This provision also specifically contemplated a future management agreement, which was actually drafted but never executed. Finally, the court rejected Corilant’s argument that enforceability of uncertain terms is a factual determination. In doing so it distinguished an earlier case in which parties disputed whether an LOI was intended to be the final expression of a contract, which neither Corilant nor FFSS argued.

Fiduciary Financial Services of The Southwest v. Corilant Financial, No. 05-10-00471-CV