ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Licenses: Theater ticket isn’t a contract

Colorado_flag A plaintiff injured by a falling piece of ceiling can’t use a contract theory to get around the provisions of Colorado’s premises liability law, says the state’s court of appeals.

In the case, the plaintiff was hit by a falling acoustic tile in defendant’s movie theater. After he had blown the tort statute of limitations, the plaintiff sued, claiming something called "negligent breach of contract." His theory apparently was that plaintiff had a contractual duty to maintain a safe place for patrons. Since this was a contract, not a tort, he argued, the longer contract statute applied.

Nice try, but no cigar, said the court. A movie ticket is a license, not a contract. The defendant’s only obligation under the license was to admit him to watch the movie, and his only riemedy for breach of the license would be a refund. The defendant’s obligations as the operator of the premises were based in tort, not contract, so the action was untimely.

Sweeney v. UA Theater Circuit, 2005 Colo. App. LEXIS 341 (March 10, 2005)

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