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It May be Time to Review Your Contract's Fine Print


Sending your children to private school is a privilege, not a right. Not all parents can afford to send their children to private schools, and those parents who can’t afford to send their children to private schools should seek out neighborhoods with excellent, A-rated public schools.

In American Learning Systems v. Gomes, the parents of two children enrolled in a private school signed a contract specifically stating that, “[s]chool records and transcripts will not be released for any of the students enrolled under this Contract until the account is paid in full for all students enrolled under this Contract.” 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 13219, *4 (Fla. 4th DCA August 31, 2016).

After the parents failed to meet their financial obligations, the parents withdrew their children from the private school and, pursuant to the contract, the private school refused to release the children’s school records and transcripts. Id. at 4-5. The private school then initiated a collections lawsuit against the parents, and the parents filed a counterclaim seeking a mandatory injunction forcing the private school to release the children’s school records and transcripts. Id. at 2-5.

The trial judge found that the children would suffer irreparable harm if the school records and transcripts weren’t released, and granted the mandatory injunction. Id. at 10. The appellate court reversed the trial judge by pointing out that, “[i]f the terms of a contract are clear and unambiguous, the court is bound by the plain meaning of those terms.” Id. at 13(quoting Landmark Am. Ins. Co. v. Pin-Pon Corp., 155 So. 3d 432, 437 (Fla. 4th DCA 2015)(emphasis supplied).

A well-written, clear, unambiguous contract is vital to any business. Without a well-written, clear, unambiguous contract executed by the parties, a contract can become subject to interpretation and a judge can use that ambiguity to make rulings contrary to the parties’ intent.

If the contract in this case did not clearly and unequivocally state that school records and transcripts will not be released until the account is paid in full, the private school would have been forced to release the school records and transcripts even though the parents failed to meet their financial obligations.

Take a look at your business contracts and agreements. Are they as clear as they can be about the consequences of failure to honor them? If not, it may be time to go back to the drawing board.

Gill Law Firm is a South Florida-based collections law firm that was founded in 1997. The firm represents small, medium and large businesses in contract enforcement, creditor's rights and debt collection.

Founded in 1997, Gill Law Firm represents small, medium and large corporations in commercial debt recovery, small business and nonprofit startups throughout the state of Florida. To find out how the firm may help your company collect its unpaid deficiency judgments, please contact A. Wayne Gill, Esq. via email at awgill@gillattorneys.com or by phone at (561) 454-0301.

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