ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Today in history—April 27

399 BC: Socrates commits suicide by drinking a cup of hemlock.

1565: The first Spanish settlement in the Philippines is established at Cebu, which the Spanish call San Miguel and, later, La Villa del Santissimo Nombre de Jesus).

1667: Hitherto unsuccessful writer John Milton, not long out of prison, sells the copyright to his new poem, Paradise Lost, for £10, or about £1,000 in 2002 pounds. He’ll make more money off the sequel, Paradise Regained.

1737: Historian Edward Gibbon is born Putney-on-Thames, near London, England. He once said that he could recall only 14 really happy days in his entire lifetime.

1773: Hoping to keep the British East India Company afloat, the the British Parliament passes the Tea Act, which gives it a (short-lived) monopoly on the North American tea trade.

1813: American troops capture Fort York and the town of York (now Toronto), the capital of Upper Canada. They subsequently destroy the fort and all government buildings. The British will return the favor the next year in Washington, D.C.

1861: President Lincoln suspends the writ of habeas corpus.

1954: A Christmas classic is born with the premiere of White Christmas, starring Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye, and Vera-Ellen.  The film didn't introduce the eponymous song; that was first heard in 1942 in Holiday Inn.

1967: Expo '67, part of the great World’s Fair craze of the Sixties, opens in Montreal, Quebec.

1981: Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center introduces the first practical computer mouse.

April 27, 2005 in Today in History | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

EU's Future Mandatory Contract Rules

"Non-Mandatory Rules in European Contract Law"

European Review of Contract Law, 2005


Amsterdam Institute for Private Law (AIP)

Document:  Available from the SSRN Electronic Paper Collection:

This article seeks to show how mandatory contract rules and non-mandatory contract rules interact in European law. Since the EU is on the way to drafting contract rules, it needs to determine what rules will be mandatory for contracts, and what rules can be drafted around by parties.

April 26, 2005 in Recent Scholarship | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Supreme court to hear contract discrimination claim

Via Ross Runkel's LawMemo Employment Law Blog, we learn that the U.S. Supreme Court is going to hear a contract case.  Well, it's actually a section 1981 discrimination claim, but there is a contract involved.  The allegations are that Domino's Pizza breached its contracts with a corporation and drove it out of business.  Domino's settled with the corporation, but the sole shareholder is now suing for discrimination.

April 26, 2005 in In the News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Just who exactly is buying these things?

The fact that law review articles are now being sold on (no, we're not making this up) is getting some attention among law professor bloggers.  Our colleague Paul Caron over at TaxProf Blog thinks it's a bad idea.  On this blog we don't take editorial positions on such issueswe just try to figure out how to get a piece of the action ourselves.

So, anybody want to buy a nice, clean, autographed version of Nomos, Narrative, and Adjudication: Toward a Jurisgenetic Theory of Law?  It's only $5.95 and includes shipping, handling, and all applicable export duties.  You can save $2 by ordering it together with More Pieces of the CEO Compensation Puzzle; buy both for only $9.95.  Order here.

April 26, 2005 in Commentary | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

News in brief

England’s Chelsea has signed the largest sponsorship contract in U.K. soccer history, getting $95.4 million over five years from Samsung.

Editorial staffers at the Boston Herald have approved a new contract that will eliminate nearly a third of their jobs by offering buy-outs, but give the remainder 5% annual increases.

Boeing lands a $6 billion contract with Air Canada for 32 new jets, including 14 of the hot new 787 Dreamliners.

Northrop Grumman will be bidding against the University of California for the $44 billion (over 20 years) management contract for the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

A contract employee in Abu Dhabi has learned that you don’t break your labor contract without a very good reason.

The Louisiana Supreme Court has agreed to hear a squabble among various public entities dealing with how much they should get under their contracts with casino companies.

April 26, 2005 in In the News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Polley's IT News Round-Up

The new issue of Vince Polley’s excellent Miscellaneous IT Related News (MIRLN) is out.  It’s available online here.  Some highlights:

• China has decided to allow online signatures to have legal effects.

• Intel will no longer allow open-source licenses on some of its software.

• A British Columbia court upholds the outsourcing of Canadian health records management to a private U.S. firm, rejecting claims of potential privacy lapses.

• A French court says Yahoo is not liable for auctions of Nazi memorabilia on its sites.

• A battle over "fair use" of materials placed on reserve by faculty is brewing at the University of California, San Diego.

• The Australian actors’ union is trying to block a "remixable" film project out of fears that the digitalized images could be used in ways the actors don’t approve.

April 26, 2005 in Government Contracting | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Help Wanted: Lithuania

Vmu_logo_1 Vytautas Magnus University (web site here; scroll down for the "English" button) and Michigan State University College of Law, as part of a Certificate Program in Transnational Law, are looking fill a short-term position at VMU in Kaunas, Lithuania.  They're looking for a person to teach a two-week, 30 academic hour, three-hour a day course on the U.N. Convention on the International Sale of Goods (CISG).

VMU will pay for the travel, provide accommodations, and will also pay an honorarium "more than sufficient to meet expenses." Teaching is in English unless you happen to be fluent in Lithuanian. Times are from August 29 to September 9, 2005, or any two-week period between September 26 and December 9. If interested, contact Dean Tadas Klimas of VMU and Prof. Jeremy Harrison of MSU.

April 26, 2005 in Miscellaneous | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Today in history—April 26

1607: English colonists make landfall at Cape Henry, Virginia, on their way to found the first permanent English settlement in North America, Jamestown.

1711: Philosopher David Hume, who will briefly consider studying for the bar before deciding it’s not for him, is born at Edinburgh, Scotland.

1812: Alfried Felix Alwyn Krupp, the "Cannon King," is born at Essen, Germany.  He will take over management of a failing family steel operation at age 14 and build it into one of the world’s great armaments manufacturers.

1882: American John Sutliff receives a patent for the first perpetual motion machine.

1889: Philosopher and reluctant academic Ludwig Joseph Johann Wittgenstein is born to a wealthy family in Vienna, Austria.

1917: Architect Ieoh Ming "I.M." Pei, who will do as much as anyone to inflict large, square, dull, faceless, uncomfortable buildings on the modern world, is born at Suzhou, China.

1921: Station WEW in St. Louis broadcasts the first radio weather report.  Odds are it was wrong then, too.

1932: Comedian Ed Wynn appears in front of a live audience to record the first broadcast of Texaco Star Theater, which will soon make him the medium’s biggest star.

1955: The Salk polio vaccine is tested by innoculating 1.8 million children.  This was obviously before strict tort liability became the rule.

1961: Robert Noyce of Intel Corp. patents the integrated circuit.

1983: Just two months after it crossed the 1100 mark, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 1200 for the first time ever.

1986: A nuclear reactor accident at Chernobyl in the Ukraine kills 31 people and irradiates thousands more. 

April 26, 2005 in Today in History | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 25, 2005

Economic Efficiency in Contract Law - Civil Law versus Common Law

"Civil Contract Law and Economic Reasoning: An Unlikely Pair?"

ARISTIDES N. HATZIS, University of Athens,

Document:  Available from the SSRN Electronic Paper Collection:

Interesting article on the efficiency of Common law versus Civil law in certain areas of contracts.

April 25, 2005 in Recent Scholarship | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Weekly Top 10

Ssrn_logo_7 This week's countdown of the Top 10 downloads from the SSRN Journal of Contracts and Commercial Law, for the 60 days ending April 24, 2005.

•1 (–) Risky Business: Managing Interagency Acquisition, Steven L. Schooner

2 (2) There Are No Penalty Default Rules in Contract Law, Eric A. Posner

3 (3) Strict Liability and the Fault Standard in Corrective Justice Accounts of Contract, Curtis Bridgeman

•4 (–) Putting Identity Theft on Ice: Freezing Credit Reports to Prevent Lending to Impostors, Chris Jay Hoofnagle

5 (4) Duty and Consequence: A Non-Conflating Theory of Promise and Contract, Jeffrey M. Lipshaw

6 (5) The Missing Preferred Return, Victor Fleischer

7 (6) Institutions, Incentives, and Consumer Bankruptcy Reform, Todd J. Zywicki

Peter_oh 8 (7) Tracing, Peter B. Oh (left)

9 (9) On-line Consumer Standard-Form Contracting Practices: A Survey and Discussion of Legal Implications, Robert A. Hillman

10 (8) Bank Loan Contract Design through Learning and Renegotiating, Ronald Mahieu & Arjen Mulder

Previous week's position in parentheses; • indicates fast-rising paper

April 25, 2005 in Recent Scholarship | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Welcome, seventh graders

We're not sure whether to be pleased or chagrined that a new web site that calculates the "readability" of other web pages says that ContractsProf Blog is written at the seventh grade level.  On the one hand, we score well (9.99) on something called the Gunning Fog Index, which runs from TV Guide (8.00) through academic paper (17.00), which means we're about as hard to understand as a John Grisham novel.   He, at least, is a lawyer.  But on the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level calculator, we score only 6.72, which means that seventh graders should have no difficulty following along.

We'll obviously have to work harder to make things more complex.  Or maybe put in some links to video game chat rooms.

April 25, 2005 in About this Blog | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

The perils of e-mail

Today's cautionary tale on the perils of e-mail comes from the Netherlands, by way of  Seems there was this newly minted Dutch lawyer who thought he was sending a message to a good friend in a law firm . . . .

April 25, 2005 in In the News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The cost of workplace protection

Via the Legal Theory Blog, we learn that John Donahue of Yale is presenting the paper The Costs of Wrongful Discharge Laws (co-written with David Autor and Stewart Schwab) today at Columbia Law School.  The trio are studying the relation between changes in employment laws and unemployment rates.

April 25, 2005 in Recent Scholarship | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Today in history—April 25

1599: Oliver Cromwell is born at Huntington in East Anglia.  He will be 43 when the English Civil War leads him to discover a talent for war and government.

1831: A new play, The Lion of the West, opens in New York City.  Its lead character, Col. Nimrod Wildfire, is based loosely on Tennessee Congressman David Crockett, and marks the start of the "Davy Crockett" legend.

1849: Canadian Governor General Lord Elgin signs the Rebellion Losses Bill, a bill that outrages the English in Lower Canada (Quebec) and triggers the Montreal Riots.

1859: Engineer Ferdinand de Lesseps turns over a spade of earth as the Compagnie universelle du canal maritime de Suez breaks ground for the new Suez Canal,

1901: New York becomes the first American state to require license plates on motor vehicles.

1906: U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Joseph Brennan (Harvard Law 1931) is born at Newark, New Jersey.

1945: Meeting in San Francisco, a group of 50 nations organize the new United Nations.

1953: The journal Nature publishes the Nobel Prize-winning article by James Watson and Francis Crick outlining the structure of DNA.  It's only one page long.  There's a lesson there for legal writers.

1959: The first ship passes through the new St. Lawrence Seaway, which links the Great Lakes with the Atlantic.

2000: "The Abominable Showman," David Merrick (born David Lee Margolois), who gave up a legal career to produce such musicals as Gypsy, Carnival, Oliver!, and Hello, Dolly!, dies at London.

April 25, 2005 in Today in History | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Cases: Should have had a noncompete

Stealing your employer's "generic" business forms to use in your competing business isn't a problem, according to a new decision by the Sixth Circuit.

In the case, a gourmet food company called Tastefully Simple had hired a consultant named Lori Caruso.  In the course of her work Caruso got various training materials, including a consultant's manual, order forms, and product return forms.  Caruso subsequently decided to open her own business with her sister-in-law.  She used the TS forms and created a business manual that looked like TS's.  TS sued.

There was no noncompete clause in Caruso's hiring agreement, said the court, so no breach of contract claim would lie.  Since the stolen forms were generic or were simply designed to record information, TS had no cause of action against Caruso.

Tastefully Simple, Inc. v. Two Sisters Gourmet, L.L.C., 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 6095 (6th Cir., 2005).

April 24, 2005 in Recent Cases | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Draft slide means much less money

Before yesterday's NFL draft, two quarterbacks, Alex Smith of Utah and Aaron Rogers of Cal, were considered about even as prospects.  What a difference a day makes.  Smith was taken first overall in the draft by the San Francisco 49ers.  Rogers, meanwhile, turned out to be the 24th player taken when he was drafted by the Green Bay Packers.

The impact on their employment contracts will be huge.  Smith's contract is expected to be in the range of $54 million over six years, with $20 million guaranteed.  Rogers, meanwhile, will probably get something in the neighborhood of $8 million over five years, with about $5.5 million guaranteed.

April 24, 2005 in In the News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Today in history—April 24

1184 BC: After ten years of siege, Greeks finally enter into the city of Troy by hiding in a very, very large wooden horse.

1704: Bookseller John Campbell publishes the first issue of America's first regular newspaper, the Boston News-Letter.

1800: President Adams signs legislation appropriating $5,000 to found the Library of Congress.

1815: Anthony Trollope is born at London.  "Of all novelists in any country," W. H. Auden would later write, "Trollope best understands the role of money.  Compared with him even Balzac is a romantic."

1889: Sir Stafford Cripps, the upper-class barrister who in various economic posts will do more than anyone to nationalize British industry in the post-war years, is born at London.

1913: The 60-story Woolworth Building, the tallest in the world and labeled the "Cathedral of Commerce," opens in New York City.

1925: Football coach John Scopes fills in for the regular science teacher at the Dayton (Tenn.) school.  Although he doesn't actually teach the part of the book dealing with evolution that day, he agrees, at the behest of a group of publicity-seeking businessmen, to the named defendant in the subsequent show trial brought by his friends in the prosecutor's office.

1934: Shirley MacLean Beaty, who will achieve stardom as "Shirley MacLaine" but immortality as the plaintiff in Parker v. Twentieth Century-Fox, is born at Richmond, Virginia.

1974: William Alexander "Bud" Abbott dies at Woodland Hills, California.  The income from the comedy team "Abbott & Costello" was split 60-40 in favor of Abbott because, as Costello explained, "Comics are a dime a dozen.  Good straight men are hard to find."

1981: IBM introduces its first personal computer.

1994: Danish confectioners create the world's largest lollipop, weighing in a 3,011 pounds.  Six years later Hershey's Jolly Rancher division will rewrite the record with a 4,016 pound cherry-flavored effort.

April 24, 2005 in Today in History | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, April 23, 2005

News in brief

Junior quarterback Alex Smith of the University of Utah is suddenly a lot richer, after being taken this morning as the number one pick in the NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers.

NBC Television, which has a stake in the PAX TV cable network, says the latter's decision to drop network programs in favor of an all-informercial and commercial  format is a breach of contract

By the "narrowest vote in its history," the Los Angeles teachers' union has agreed to a new contract, providing for 2 percent raises and avoiding a strike.

The Deflect-O Corporation of Indianapolis has received the contract to build the "desk apprentice" desk organizer designed by contestants on The Apprentice television program.

Speaking of "reality" shows, an American Idol contestant's "hardcore" rock band Pray for the Soul of Betty has signed a contract with Koch Records and will release its first album in May.

Hockey star Marian Gaborik, who fired his agents just before signing a $3 million contract, has been ordered by an arbitrator to pay them their commissions on the deal.

A Canadian hair dresser who found a fly in his bottle of Culligan water has received  $340,000 in damages for the shock he suffered on seeing a fly in the bottle, even though he didn't actually drink any.

April 23, 2005 in In the News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Is there any theory behind Realism?

Everybody seems to agree that since the days of Karl Llewellyn, American commercial law has been heavily influenced by Legal Realism.  Yet hardly anybody seems to share the same conception of what Legal Realism is.  In a new paper, The Realist Conception of Law, Hanoch Dagan of Tel Aviv University takes a crack at making sense out of the jumble of Llewellyn mysticism, Frank determinism, and Rodell rants that collectively go by that name.  Dagan tries to fit the pieces together by positing Realism as a series of "constitutive tension" between the various strands:

Continue reading

April 23, 2005 in Recent Scholarship | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Today in history—April 23

303: A senior military aide to the Emperor Diocletian admits that he is a Christian and is decapitated at Nicomedia (now Izmit) in what is now Turkey.  As St. George, he will be venerated as the patron of England.

1348; King Edward III founds the Order of the Garter.  "I like the Garter," Lord Melbourne will say some few centuries later, "There's no damned merit to it."

1533: The Church of England annuls the marriage between Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII of England, thus turning Princess Mary (later Mary I) into a bastard.  This doesn't increase her fondness for Protestantism.

1791: Lawyer James Buchanan is born in a log cabin at Cove Gap, Pennsylvania.  In his inaugural address as President of the U.S. in 1857, he predicts that the Supreme Court shortly will settle the slavery question "speedily and finally" in its Dred Scott decision.

1813: Stephen Arnold Douglas, the lawyer and land speculator whose Kansas-Nebraska Act will ignite the fuse that will touch off the Civil War, is born at Brandon, Vermont.

1951: Charles Gates Dawes (Cincinnati Law 1886) dies at Evanston, Illinois.  He is the only U.S. Vice President to both win the Nobel Peace Prize (1925) and to write the music for a hit song (It's All in the Game).

1968: The United Kingdom produces its first decimal coins, a 5p and a 10p coin.

1982: At Key West, Florida, the Conch Republic declares independence and declares war on the United States.  It immediately surrenders and requests $1 billion in foreign aid.

1985: The Coca-Cola Co. announces the future of soft drinks:  New Coke.

2001: Intel Corp. introduces the Pentium 4 Processor.

April 23, 2005 in Today in History | Permalink | TrackBack (0)