ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Monday, June 13, 2005

Cases: Implied-in-fact contract

California_flag_8 A lawyer with an offbeat legal practice who claimed a TV producer stole his idea for a show lost his claim for an implied-in-fact contract because he couldn't prove that the producer actually used his idea, the California Court of Appeals decided in a recent case.

Jeffrey Hughes is a lawyer who runs his practice out of his Legal Grind Café.  A  patron of the café, actress DeVera Marcus, offered to get Hughes in touch with Marc Buckland, a producer and director, about maybe making a show about this unique experience.   Buckland looked it over and said his production company wasn’t  interested.  About four years later, Hughes was surprised to learn that Buckland was the co-executive producer for the new NBC show, Ed, which happens to be about a lawyer who runs his practice out of his bowling alley.

Hughes sued Buckland in 2002 for breach of implied-in-fact contract and breach of  confidence.  The trial court granted Buckland summary judgment and Hughes appealed.

To prove breach of implied-in-fact contract, said the court, the plaintiff must show (1) that he submitted his idea to Buckland; (2) he conditioned the submission on Buckland’s obligation to pay for the ideas, if Buckland used them; and (3) Buckland voluntarily accepted the disclosure of the ideas, found them valuable, and used them.   It was the third element that tripped him up.  Buckland claimed he played no role in creating the character, who was originally set to be a stock broker, and Hughes couldn't show that he had been responsible.  Summary judgment was therefore appropriate.

Hughes v. Buckland, 2005 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 4808 (2d Dist., June 1, 2005).

June 13, 2005 in Recent Cases | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Ontario gets new consumer regs

Ontario_flag New regulations under Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act 2002 are expected to come into effect July 30.  They’re a mix of new disclosure provisions, mandatory contract warranty terms, specific measures addressed to individual abuses, and whopping new fines.  William R. MacLean of Toronto’s Borden Ladner Gervais LLP has a run-down of the new rules and suggestions for business compliance.

June 13, 2005 in Legislation | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

U.S. housing: Surprisingly affordable

Housing prices in major metro areas in the U.S. have gone up, but so have incomes, says a new report from Forbes, via MSN Money.  Looking at 12 major metropolitan areas, the report finds Los Angeles to be the most expensive city -- those who make the median income can afford to buy only 57 percent of the median house, with things just slightly better in New York and San Francisco.  Housing is still a bargain in Dallas/Fort Worth, where the median income is double the median house price, with Atlanta and Houston also very affordable.

Adjusted for interest rates, the study found that, surprisingly enough, housing is more affordable today than it was in 1980 in all of the twelve metro areas except New York and San Francisco.

June 13, 2005 in In the News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Today in history -- June 13

1752: The prototype of the fashionable best-selling novelist, Fanny Burney, is born at King's Lynn in Norfolk.  Edmund Burke and Sir Joshua Reynolds will both sit up all night reading her Evelina.

1774: The Colony of Rhode Island becomes the first American colony to ban the importation of slaves.

1798: Fr. Fermín Francisco de Lasuén de Arasqueta founds the Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, regarded as the most beautiful of the California missions, at what is now Oceanside, California. 

1844: Linus Yale receives a patent for the door lock.  He'll open a business selling locks three years later.

1898: The Canadian government organizes the Yukon Territory, with land purchased from the Hudson's Bay Company.  Settlement has been slow; today there are 31,000 inhabitants, with 19,000 of them in Whitehorse, the capital.

1920: The U.S. Postal Service rules that children may not be sent parcel post.  Children rode in the mail car with postage stamps attached to them, and rode at the same price as live chickens.

1935: James J. Braddock knocks out heavyweight champion Max Baer in Ron Howard's current film, Cinderella Man.

1965: Philosopher Martin Buber dies at Jerusalem.

1966: The U.S. Supreme Court decides Miranda v. Arizona, holding that criminal suspects must be given specific warnings before being interrogated.

1967: President Johnson nominates Solicitor General Thurgood Marshall to the U.S. Supreme Court.

1986: Twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are born at Sherman Oaks, California.  They'll start acting at age 9 months, and will be worth about $150 million each on their 19th birthdays.

2004: A meteorite the size of a grapefruit smashes through the roof of Phil and Brenda Archer's house in Ellerslie, New Zealand, destroying the couch.

June 13, 2005 in Today in History | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

E-Commerce Anyone

Kerr, Ian R., "Spirits in the Material World: Intelligent Agents as Intermediaries in Electronic Commerce" . Dalhousie Law Journal, Vol. 22, p.189-249, 1999

Timely and interesting article on the relationship between electronic and human agents in electronic commerce.

June 13, 2005 in Recent Scholarship | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Ruth K fetches top price

Babe_ruth_1 The most famous contract in U.S. sports history -- the 1919 deal by which the Boston Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees -- sold at auction Friday for a record $996,000 at Sotheby's in New York.

The "yellowed contract," signed by Bosox owner Harry Frazee and Yanks owners Jacob Ruppert and Tillinghast  L. Huston, shipped Ruth, then a star pitcher, to the Bronx in exchange for $100,000.  Frazee, also known as a Broadway producer, was said to want the money to finance a production of No, No, Nanette.

Thanks to Ross Runkel of LawMemo.Com for the tip.  (Photo public domain, courtesy WIkipedia.)

June 12, 2005 in Celebrity Contracts | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Cases: Indian sovereign immunity

California_flag_7 A whistleblower at an Indian casino has learned the hard way that that "sovereign immunity" means "immunity."

Conrad Sabiron worked as a security officer at the Chumash Casino.  He discovered acts of illegal gambling, and after he “snitched,” the casino fired him.  Understandably upset, Sabiron sued for breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and wrongful termination.   On appeal, Sabiron argued that while Indian tribes may have immunity, that does not allow them to break the law, fire the whistleblower, and get away with it.

Unfortunately, said the California Court of Appeals, that's exactly what immunity means.  Although Indian tribes may be prosecuted by the State for the gambling violations, no civil suit can be brought against them without their consent.  Thus, as meritorious as Sabiron’s case may be, said the court, he has no courtroom in which to present it.

Sabiron v. Gregory, 2005 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 4775 (2d Dist., May 31, 2005).

June 12, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Abusing noncompetes

The usual point of an employee non-compete agreement is to restrict competition.  (Duh!)   But whether or not the agreement holds up may depend on the kind of competition that’s being restricted.  In an interesting analysis, Bret Cohen and Diane E. Gwin of Boston’s Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky & Popeo, discuss the distinction between using such clauses to eliminate “ordinary” competition and “unfair” competition.

June 12, 2005 in Commentary | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Today in history -- June 12

1381: Revolting peasants led by Wat Tyler arrive at Blackheath, where John Ball gives a rousing sermon against aristocratic privilege:
         When Adam delved
         And Eve span,
         Who was then
         The gentleman?

1839: According to tradition, Abner Doubleday invents the game of baseball at Cooperstown, New York.

1897: Carl Elsener patents the Swiss Army knife.  German competition nearly drives him to bankruptcy in the early years, but his Victorinox -- with its cross trademark -- continues to make the knives today under his great-grandson.

1915: David Rockefeller is born at New York City.  He will become one of America's great riches-to-riches story, starting at the bottom as the son of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., but rising to become chairman Rockefeller Center.

1939: With funding from the Singer Sewing Machine Co., the National Baseball Hall of Fame is dedicated at Cooperstown 100.  Voting for the Hall is done by baseball writers, which is probably why 56 sportswriters but only 17 managers have been elected.

1963: Cleopatra, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, opens in New York City.  At an inflation-adjusted cost of $270 million to make, its will drive 20th Century-Fox into bankruptcy.

1967: The U.S. Supreme Court holds that laws prohibiting interracial marriage are unconstitutional in Loving v. Virginia.

1982: Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen, Linda Ronstadt, and 750,000 other folks rally in New York City against nuclear weapons.  Oddly, the world does not disarm.

1987: President Reagan, appearing at the Brandenburg Gate, challenges Premier Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall.

1997: Major League Baseball's National and American Leagues agree to "interleague play."  Yes, the world is going to hell.

June 12, 2005 in Today in History | Permalink | TrackBack (0)


Questions about the Efficiency of Employment Arbitration Agreements

Matthew Bodie

Hofstra Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 05-08
Georgia Law Review, Vol. 39, No. 1, p. 1, 2004

This article considers how efficient arbitration agreements actually are in the context of employment especially in light of the position the employee finds themselves in when signing the agreement.

June 12, 2005 in Recent Scholarship | Permalink | TrackBack (0)