ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

EU may require shorter work weeks

Eu_flag The European Union may be tightening up the 48-hour maximum work week.  Thus far states like Britain, where both employers and labor unions oppose the maximum work weeks, have been permitted to opt out of the limit, but several nations are pushing a plan to make the rule mandatory across all member states.  Helen Jerry and Marie-Louise McMahon of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP have a rundown of the debate.

June 8, 2005 in Commentary | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Steve McQueen on bad faith breach

Actor Steve McQueen’s 1959 automobile accident in Boston was a put-up job designed to get him out of his contract for the Wanted: Dead or Alive television series, according to his agent, Hilly Elkins.

Elkins, interviewed as part of the promotional tour for the DVD release of Wanted: Dead or Alive, says that McQueen wanted out of his TV deal so he could film The Magnificent Seven.  It sheds a little light on Hollywood business practices:

I told Steve they wouldn't let him out of his contract and give him this significant career opportunity.

He was with [his first wife] on holiday in Boston and I suggested to him that he have a little accident that will keep him from working.

He promptly took his rented Cadillac and ran it into the Bank of Boston and came out of it with whiplash, which everybody gets when you hit something hard.  Everyone thought it was a staged act but his neck was in a brace.

Not only did the Wanted Dead Or Alive people let him do the picture, but I also got them to double his salary.  Once we got through the arguments of releasing his contract, the neck brace came off and life went on.

June 8, 2005 in In the News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Today in history—June 8

1042: The last Danish king of England, Harthacanute, falls to the floor in a fit while drinking and dies at Lambeth, leaving the throne to his half-brother, Edward the Confessor.

1637: René Descartes "ushers in the scientific revolution" with his Discourse on Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason, and Seeking Truth in the Sciences.

1809: Revolutionary writer Thomas Paine dies at Greenwich Village in New York City. Only six mourners come to the funeral, and the New York Citizen’s obituary sums him up by saying, "He had lived long, did some good and much harm."

1845: Former President Andrew Jackson dies at his home near Nashville, Tennessee. Jackson’s pet parrot will have to be taken away from the funeral when it won’t stop swearing.

1867: Frank Lloyd Wright, the architect who popularized the idea that buildings should be built to please the architect, not the owner, is born at Richland Center, Wisconsin.

1912: In New York City, the owners of the Independent Motion Picture Co., Powers Picture Co., Champion Films, and American Eclair, sign a contract to merge their studios into what will become the Universal Motion Picture Manufacturing Co.

1917: Future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Byron Raymond White is born at Fort Collins, Colorado.

1947: Red Heart Dog Food introduces a new 15-minute radio program called Lassie.

1948: Texaco Star Theater debuts on NBC. Former child actor Milton Berle—who got his acting start playing Buster Brown in shoe ads—soon becomes one of TV’s biggest stars.

1949: George Orwell’s new book hits the streets. He’d wanted to call it The Last Man in Europe, but the publishers, Secker & Warburg, change it to Nineteen Eighty-Four.

1969: CBS cancels the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. The brothers move to ABC the next year for The Smothers Brothers Summer Show, but no one watches because it’s up against Hawaii Five-O.

June 8, 2005 in Today in History | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Nevada Enacts Revised Article 1

Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn signed SB 201 into law last Thursday (6/2).  This makes Nevada the thirteenth state to enact Revised Article 1 (up from seven at the end of last year's legislative sessions).  Like all of its predecessors, SB 201 rejects uniform R1-301 in favor of language tracking pre-revised 1-105.  Nevada becomes the eighth state to enact the uniform good faith definition in R1-102(b)(20).

Connecticut HB 6985 appears to still be making its way to Governor Jodi Rell.  If she signs it as is, the tally will be 14-0 against uniform R1-301 and 9-5 in favor of uniform R1-201(b)(20).

Illinois SB 1647 now appears dead.  It was reassigned by rule to the House Rules Committee on May 13, along with dozens of other bills.  The Rules Committee has scheduled no hearings on any of the bills, and the legislature is fast approaching adjournment.

There has been no progress yet on the petition introduced a month ago in the Massachusetts House.

June 8, 2005 in Legislation | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Review: I Love Lucy (Lady Duff Gordon)

Pace's Jim Fishman has always been a fan of Wood v. Lucy, Lady Duff Gordon, and offers this review of a retrospective show featuring her work at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology.  Click on the illustrations to enlarge them.

                    I Love Lucy

                                by James J. Fishman
                         Pace University School of Law

     Designing the It Girl: Lucile and Her Style
     Fashion Institute of Technology, New York New York
     March 1-April 16, 2005

Lucy_lady_duff_gordon_1"The defendant styles herself a creator of fashion. Her favor helps a sale."  Thus begins Cardozo’s famous decision in Wood v. Lucy Lady Duff Gordon, 222 N.Y. 88, 118 N.E. 214 (1917).  Some have speculated that Cardozo is making a clever play on words, or signaling that Lucy is in for a rough time.  In fact, Lucy, Lady Duff Gordon (who worked under the name "Lucile") was an innovative fashion designer, a ground-breaking entrepreneur and arbiter of style who transformed herself from a court dressmaker to an international couturière.  (Left: Lady Duff Gordon in 1917, courtesy Randy Bryan Bigham.)

The museum of New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology’s (FIT) exhibition, Designing the It Girl: Lucile and Her Style is the first fashion exhibition devoted to our Lucy.  It was curated by several gifted graduate students from FIT’s Masters Program in Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory and Museum Practice. Featuring original garments and fashion accessories from the FIT and private collections, as well as sketches and photos from Lucile’s archives, which are housed in the Gladys Marcus Library’s special collections at FIT, the exhibit concentrates on the years 1900 to 1920, when Lucile was at the height of her success.

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June 7, 2005 in Famous Cases | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Call for Papers: Rhetoric & Argument

Jalwd_logo Whatever role logic and experience may have played in the life of the law, there's no doubt that rhetoric and argumentation have been an important part of what the profession does.  The Association of Legal Writing Directors is looking for papers for a special issue of its Journal on Rhetoric and Argumentation.  Submission deadline in September 15, and they're interested in short essays as well as longer pieces.  Click on "continue reading" for the Call for Papers.

Continue reading

June 7, 2005 in Conferences | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Cases: Texas law applies to Texas policy

Texas_flag_2 Texas law governs an automobile insurance agreement between a Texas insured and a Texas insurer, even though the vehicle was garaged in Louisiana, the driver claiming reimbursement was a resident of Louisiana, and the accident occurred in Oklahoma, ruled the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in a recent case.

In the case, the Louisiana-based employee of a Texas company was involved in an accident while driving an Avis rental car in Oklahoma.  The other driver's insurance was inadequate, so the employee sought to recover under the employer's uninsured motorist policy.  That policy, however, limited coverage to cars owned by the employer and garaged in states with compulsory UIM coverage.

The employee argued that under Louisiana law the limitations were unenforceable, but the court, applying Oklahoma choice-of-law rules, held that Texas law applied, and the restriction was valid.

Papa v. Noone, No. 04-5106 (10th Cir. May 26, 2005).

June 7, 2005 in Recent Cases | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Portis settles contract dispute over number

The contract dispute between football players Clinton Portis and former Washington Redskins teammate Ifeanyi Ohalete has settled on the eve of trial.  Portis agreed to pay $18,000 of the $20,000 that Ohalete claimed was still owed him.

When star running back Portis signed with the Redskins, he wanted to wear the same number, 26, he had worn with the Denver Broncos.  But that number was already being worn by journeyman safety Ohalete.  Portis agreed to pay Ohalete $40,000 for the rights to the number—$20,000 up front and the remainder in two installments.  When the Skins cut Ohalete shortly thereafter, Portis, who figured he would have got number 26 anyway, refused to pay the remainder of the compensation.

June 7, 2005 in In the News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Today in history—June 7

1494: Spain and Portugal sign the Treaty of Tordesillas, which settles their disputes by providing that Spain will have exclusive rights to most of the New World, while Portugal gets rights to Africa, India, and East Asia.  Few other countries respect the division.

1776: Virginia lawyer Richard Henry Lee introduces his fateful resolution before the Continental Congress:

Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.—That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances.—That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation.

1778: George Bryan "Beau" Brummell, the first professional leader of fashion in English history, is born at London.  His most lasting contribution is the invention of the idea of clean underwear.

1871: Brig. Gen. Thomas Jackson Rodman, U.S.V., whose work at Knap, Rudd & Co.’s Fort Pitt Foundry at Pittsburgh led to major advances in artillery design and construction, dies in his post as commander of the Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois.

1909: The Panama Railroad & Steamship Line's S.S. Alliance becomes the first passenger vessel to vessel to pass through the Gatun Locks on the Panama Canal.

1929: Future lawyer and Canadian Prime Minister John Napier Turner, who will lead the battle against free trade with the U.S., is born at Richmond, Surrey, England.

1955: A new summer replacement program airs on CBS. Within weeks Revlon's The $64,000 Question will become a national phenomenon.

1965: Sony unveils the first consumer videotape recorder. Price? Under $3,000.

1967: After several failed suicide attempts over the years, writer and wit Dorothy Parker dies of a heart attack.

June 7, 2005 in Today in History | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 6, 2005

Weekly Top 10

Ssrn_logo_11 Following are the top ten most-downloaded papers from the SSRN Journal of Contract and Commercial Law, for the sixty-day period ending June 5, 2005.

1 (1) Risky Business: Managing Interagency Acquisition, Steven L. Schooner (Geo. Washington)

2 (2) Commentary on the Acquisition Workforce, Steven L. Schooner & Christopher R. Yukins (Geo. Washington)

3 (3) Putting Identity Theft on Ice: Freezing Credit Reports to Prevent Lending to Impostors, Chris Jay Hoofnagle (Electronic Privacy Information Center)

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

5 (5) A Normative Theory of Business Bankruptcy, Alan Schwartz (Yale)

6 (6) Pricing Legal Options: A Behavioral Perspective, Oren Bar-Gill (NYU)

7 (-) Toward a Better Understanding of Anti-dilution Provisions in Convertible Securities, Michael Woronoff (Proskauer Rose LLP) & Jonathan Rosen (Independent)

8 (9) The Political Economy of International Sales Law, Clayton P. Gillette (NYU) & Robert E. Scott (Virginia)

9 (7) Free Markets Under Siege. Richard A. Epstein (Chicago)

10 (8) The Role of Groups in Norm Transformation: A Dramatic Sketch, in Three Parts, Robert B. Ahdieh (Emory)

June 6, 2005 in Recent Scholarship | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Contracts and the division of labor

Nber_logo_1 The National Bureau of Economic Research has a new paper out, Contracts and the Division of Labor, by Daron Acemoglu (MIT Economics), Pol Antràs (Harvard Economics), and Elhanan Helpman (ditto):

We present a tractable framework for the analysis of the relationship between contract incompleteness, technological complementarities and the division of labor. In the model economy, a firm decides the division of labor and contracts with its worker-suppliers on a subset of activities they have to perform. Worker-suppliers choose their investment levels in the remaining activities anticipating the ex post bargaining equilibrium. We show that greater contract incompleteness reduces both the division of labor and the equilibrium level of productivity given the division of labor. The impact of contract incompleteness is greater when the tasks performed by different workers are more complementary. We also discuss the effect of imperfect credit markets on the division of labor and productivity, and study the choice between the employment relationship versus an organizational form relying on outside contracting. Finally, we derive the implications of our framework for productivity differences and comparative advantage across countries.

June 6, 2005 in Recent Scholarship | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sydney opens new Parsons Centre

Sydney_law_school Slightly belated congratulations to the University of Sydney Law School, which opened its important new Ross Parsons Centre for Commercial, Corporate and Taxation Law late in 2004.  The Centre has an international bent, and has already attracted an impressive array of visiting faculty, Michael Furmston (Bristol), Deborah DeMott (Duke). Eric Orts (Wharton School), Kees van Raad (Leiden); David Rosenbloom (NYU); Richard Speidel (Northwestern), and Charles Yablon (Cardozo).

June 6, 2005 in Miscellaneous | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Mother of invention

Sce_logo The idea of "invention" is a big one—so big, in fact, that it will take four universities to sponsor the Society for Critical Exchange's upcoming Contexts of Invention conference, April 20-22, 2006, at Case Law School in Cleveland, Ohio.  Case's Center for Law, Technology, and the Arts is one of the four sponsors, together with Harvard, Chicago, and American University.

Organizers are interested in just about every possible aspect of what it means to "invent."  Click on "continue reading" for the Call for Papers.

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June 6, 2005 in Conferences | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Today in history—June 6

1639: The General Court of Massachusetts grants 500 acres of land at Pecoit to Edward Rawon for creation of the first gunpowder mill in the American colonies.

1832: Legal reformer and utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham dies at London.  You can see his skeleton, dressed and wearing a wax head, in a glass case at the University of London.

1859: Queen Victoria signs the letters patent creating the Colony of Queensland.

1891: Scots-born lawyer John Alexander Macdonald, the first Prime Minister of Canada, dies in office at Ottawa.

1907:  Henkel & Cie. of Düsseldorf markets the first household detergent, called "Persil."

1925: Walter Percy Chrysler, the former Buick president who had acquired the ailing Maxwell Motor Co., creates his own company, which he names Chrysler Corp.

1932: The first federal gasoline tax, one cent per gallon, goes into effect in the United States.

1933: Richard Hollingshead, an auto-parts salesman and film buff, creates the first drive-in movie theater (which he calls the "Drive In Theater") on Crescent Boulevard in Camden, New Jersey.

1933: President Roosevelt signs the Securities Act of 1933 into law, creating the Securities and Exchange Commission.

1941: Louis Chevrolet, the Swiss-born race driver who founded the American car company that bears his name, dies at Detroit, Michigan.

1946: The Basketball Association of America, the forerunner of the National Basketball Association, is founded in New York City.

1962: The Beatles audition for EMI Records.  Producer George Martin is unimpressed with the audition tapes, but later changes his mind after meeting the group.

1971: After 23 years on the air, CBS's Ed Sullivan Show airs its final episode.

June 6, 2005 in Today in History | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, June 5, 2005

Juris Novus Featuring Blogs from the Law Professor Blogs Network

The Law Professor Blogs Network is proud to announce a collaboration with Juris Novus, one of the finest law blog aggregators online. Juris Novus will be featuring a rotating cast of blogs from our Network.

Statement from Juris Novus:

Keeping up with the blogsphere is a daunting task as new blogs come online daily. Juris Novus provides order and centralization, pulling together relevant headlines and presenting them on a single page. Law professors greatly influence the legal blogsphere. Academia demands a clear writing voice and current knowledge of legal ongoings. Successful blogging demands the same, it comes as no surprise that professors have risen to the top of the law blogsphere. In honor of those law professors who have contributed to the rich culture of the legal blogsphere, Juris Novus features a heavier balance of law professor blogs.

Juris Novus is updated three times an hour and stores headlines on a history page when you miss a day. Save time and simplify your day with Juris Novus. Thank you for making the legal blogsphere a better place!

June 5, 2005 in About this Blog | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Law & Society Sunday

As the Law & Society Association's annual meeting wraps up today in Las Vegas, there's an interesting paper by Nestor Davidson (Colorado), Relational Contracts and the Privatization of Social Welfare: A Case Study:

Scholarly literature on private sector delivery of public services, particularly in the context of social welfare, raises important theoretical questions about the ideological underpinnings of the privatization movement and the challenges and opportunities presented in maintaining public values when services are provided by private entities. These debates would benefit, however, from more detailed examinations of how, in practice, public norms and efficacy translate into programmatic design and implementation. To this end, this paper will present a case-study of privatization in the arena of affordable housing. In particular, drawing on relational-contract literature, the paper will focus on the nature of the long-term relationship that develops between the governmental entity and the provider of services, exploring ways in which an often adversarial relationship can be rethought as a long-term collaborative effort.

June 5, 2005 in Recent Scholarship | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

ABA has texts on franchising

There's no more ubiquitous type of long-term contract today than the franchise relationship.   The good folks at the American Bar Association's Forum on Franchising have a new edition of their Fundamentals of Franchising, edited by Rupert M. Barkoff and Andrew C. Selden.  It's heavy on the practical side, as chapter titles like "Structuring a Unit Franchise Relationship," "Franchise Disclosure Issues," and "Counseling Franchisees" suggest.  There's also a new book, Fundamentals of Franchising—Canada for those doing business in the Great White North.  Details on both books are here.

June 5, 2005 in Books | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Cases: No harm, no foul

New_jersey_flag_2 A Mercedes buyer who claimed that the car's "COMAND navigation system" was not as good as advertised saw his claim dismissed because he failed to show any damage.

Amiel Dabush and others in 1999 leased the newest model of Mercedes S-Class with a COMAND navigation system included.  The brochure for the system claimed, “If there’s a road that goes there, the S-Class can show you the way.”  When Dabush finally had call to use the system, he found that it worked, but was unimpressed by the fact that he had to talk to a customer service representative who guided him to where he needed to be.  He sued for breach of contract and fraud, saying that the brochures promised a much more high-tech system.

He was unable to show any loss, however, and the New Jersey court read the brochure as mere puffery.  In fact, the dealership had offered to buy back the car before the lease period ended and had given him an Dabush updated version of the COMAND system free of charge.  Thus, since Dabush failed to establish any ascertainable loss or detrimental reliance, summary judgment against him was affirmed.

Dabush v. Mercedes-Benz USA, Inc., 2005 WL 1240196 (N.J. Super. A.D., May 26, 2005).

June 5, 2005 in Recent Cases | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Today in history--June 5

1723: Philosopher and economist Adam Smith is baptized at Kilkaldy, in Fife, Scotland.

1817: The first steamship on the Great Lakes, the Frontenac, is launched.

1837: Future home to three law schools, Houston, Texas, receives a city charter from the Congress of the Republic of Texas.

1850: Frontier lawman Patrick Floyd "Pat" Garrett is born at Chambers County, Alabama.

1851: The National Era newspaper publishes the first episode of a serial novel, written by the wife of a Bowdoin professor, that will run for ten months.  It's called Uncle Tom's Cabin, or Life Among the Lowly.

1883: Economist John Maynard Keynes is born at Cambridge, England.

1913: Christian Friedrich Wilhelm von der Ahe, the German-born baseball entrepreneur who owned the St. Louis Browns and, among other things, invented the World Series and the ballpark hot dog, dies broke and working as a bartender in St. Louis, Missouri.

1916: Louis Dembitz Brandeis is sworn in as a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.  He had been, perhaps, best known for his famous brief in support of workplace discrimination against women in Muller v. Oregon.

1933: The United States goes off the gold standard.

1956: Elvis "The Pelvis" Presley causes consternation with his wiggling hips when he appears on the Milton Berle television program to push his new single, Hound Dog.

1977: The first practical personal computer, the Apple II, goes on sale.

1985:  President Reagan appoints Alex Kozinski to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

1993: Singer Conway Twitty dies at Branson, Missouri.  He had more Number 1 hits (55) than anyone in history.

1998: A seven-week strike that shuts down General Motors begins with a job action in Flint, Michigan.  Honda, Toyota, Nissan, and other non-union shops happily sell a great many more cars.

2004: Ronald Wilson Reagan, the only labor union official ever to become President of the United States, dies at Bel-Air, California.

June 5, 2005 in Today in History | Permalink | TrackBack (0)