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 26, 2005
EU's Future Mandatory Contract Rules
"Non-Mandatory Rules in European Contract Law"
European Review of Contract Law, 2005
BY: MARTIJN W. HESSELINK
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.
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.
Just who exactly is buying these things?
The fact that law review articles are now being sold on Amazon.com (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 issues—we 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.
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.
Polley's IT News Round-Up
• 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.
Help Wanted: Lithuania
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.
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 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.
Weekly Top 10
•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
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
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.
The perils of e-mail
Today's cautionary tale on the perils of e-mail comes from the Netherlands, by way of Law.com. Seems there was this newly minted Dutch lawyer who thought he was sending a message to a good friend in a law firm . . . .
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.
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 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).
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.
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.