Wednesday, January 26, 2005
A contract dispute between a Chicago real estate developer and the town of Wheat Ridge, Colorado, may turn out badly for the home team. A Colorado court has expressed "distaste" for the town redevelopment agency’s "thumbing its nose" and "refusing to level" with a developer trying to build a Walgreen’s drug store.
The Cornerstone Group signed a contract with the Wheat Ridge Urban Renewal Authority in 2003, after the local city council approved the deal. WRURA was supposed to use its sovereign power to take property by eminent domain that would then be turned over to Cornerstone, which would build the store. The project was contentious, and local residents and businesses fought hard. WRURA eventually backed out of the deal. The developer sued.
Cornerstone says that the issue is whether WRURA’s contract with Cornerstone is enforceable; the agency claims that Cornerstone "didn’t understand" the steps that would have to be taken to finish the deal.
Cornerstone won the first round, convincing a Colorado state judge that it would likely win its contract claim and gaining an injunction against spending by the agency to preserve assets for a damages award.
The processes of the law can be strange. That’s a lesson that California wine distributor Ken Jacques is learning, after he bought 125,000 bottles of good quality Australian wine for $100.
Jacques's purchase is just the latest round in a legal brangle that started in 2002 when an Australian winery, James Estate, hired Jacques’s company, Evaki, Inc., to sell its wine in the U.S. A few months later James Estate stopped paying and sued. It also wrote nasty letters to Evaki’s clients claiming that Evaki was being prosecuted for theft. Evaki countersued, and eventually won some $400,000 in damages. James Estate refused to pay, saying it didn't have the money.
Jacques discovered that the winery had 10,000 cases of wine in a warehouse in Sonoma, and had the court put a levy on it. At the sheriff's sale, Jacques bid $100—and there were no other offers.
Jacques still hasn’t recovered his damages, but believes he will recoup about $250,000 from sales of the wine, which goes for $9 to $15 a bottle at retail.
One of the delightful things about teaching Contracts is that you almost never have to think about the jurisprudence of Justice Harry Blackmun. (Or, to be fair, any of his colleagues.) Yet there is a certain train-wreck fascination with the Nation's HIghest Court that sometimes transfixes even commercial law types.
For those jealous of the hordes of students who always seem to trail after the Con Law teachers, there’s an upcoming conference at the University of Missouri–Columbia School of Law, Reflections on Judging: A Discussion Following the Release of the Blackmun Papers, to be held Friday and Saturday, Feb. 25-26.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Via our new colleagues at Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog, the story of Canada’s Great Stork Derby, in which a wealthy lawyer leaves a fortune to whichever woman in Toronto who can bear the most children in the ten-year period after his death . . . .
The U.S. Government Accountability Office has released its 2005 list of 25 government programs that are at "high risk" of vulnerability to waste, fraud, and mismanagement. The good news is that three areas have been removed from the list, including (among others) the Student Financial Aid program. The bad news is that four areas have been added; the biggest seems to be the government’s practice of using government-wide "supply schedule" contracts.
The GAO considers a total of 25 areas to be "high risk," including such things as Medicare, Medicaid, procurement at NASA, DoD, and DoE, air traffic control modernization, HUD mortgages, tax collection—in other words, pretty much any part of the government where money changes hands. Many of these programs have been on the list since it started in 1990. Of 41 different areas that have appeared on the GAO list, six were resolved before 2001, and 10 since. The GAO document itself is here.
If you want to report waste, fraud, or mismanagement on a federally funded program at your own institution, click here, but don't do it unless you've got tenure.
But what, asks Diane Holmes-Curtice, who as a law student rebelled against authority and demanded to know what Rose had to be ashamed about? The whole contretemps was not exactly her fault, was it? Herewith, her answer poem defending the great heifer's honor . . . .
Tuesday, February 15, is the deadline for submitting papers for the Fourth Annual Meeting of the Israeli Association of Law and Economics, which will be held in Haifa on May 26, 2005. Papers from more junior scholars are particularly encouraged, and some limited travel money may be available. Click the link for the announcement.
The ABA’s Standing Committee and Professionalism and the Conference of Chief Justices are looking for nominations for the "National Award for Innovation and Excellent in Teaching Professionalism." If you know somebody who deserves the award, act quickly; the deadline is Monday, February 7. Click on the link for the announcement.
Widener University School of Law has announced that Russell Hakes (left) has been named Vice Dean of the Delaware campus. Hakes, a U.C.C. specialist, teaches Sales & Leases, Secured Transactions, and Payment Systems, along with Property. He has taught at theWilmington school since 1988.
He’s probably best known to law students for his The ABC's of the UCC—Article 9: Secured Transactions.
The idea that contract terms are often used to apportion the risks among parties is something we often try to impress on our students. Every contract, of course, carries risk with it, but some carry more than others.
Elizabeth Winston (Whittier) points us to a story in the Los Angeles Times about insurance agents who write the policies for economically pointless and dangerous activities, like a vacation trek across Antarctica or a solo around-the-world cruise. Balancing physical hazards and moral hazard is a tough job, particularly when dealing with people who think taking a cell phone along on a mountain climb is cheating.
George Washington University has got a pair of upcoming programs of interest to those who do government contract law. This Friday is Contractors on the Battlefield: Learning from the Experience in Iraq. It seems to offer an unusually good collection of academics, military experts, and contractor representatives, and should be interesting. The keynote speaker is Director of Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy Deidre E. Lee. It’s free.
A week or so later is a half-day colloquium, Organizational Conflicts of Interest: New Challenges, which GW is sponsoring in conjunction with the Boards of Contract Appeals Bar Association and the National Contract Management Association.
Cool name, although Buffalo wings ordinarily should be consumed with beer or whiskey, not vodka. A great advertising opportunity for law firms trying to appear hipper than they are.
Left, entirely gratuitous picture of singer Jessica Simpson, solely because she once thought that Buffalo wings came from bison.
1327: Fourteen-year-old Edward III (left) becomes King of England when his mother Isabella and her lover Roger Mortimer depose and then murder his father, Edward II. Three years later the young king will have Mortimer hanged without trial at Tyburn and his mother banished to a convent.
1755: The Tsarina Elizabeth founds Moscow State University, the oldest university in Russia.
1791: The British Parliament splits the old province of Quebec into Upper (Western) and Lower (Eastern) Canada. Upper Canada, which at this time has only 10,000 residents, mostly refugees from the U.S., will come to be known as Ontario.
1812: English mathematician William Shanks is born. He will spend a good part of his life calculating pi—eventually reaching 707 decimal places by 1873. In 1944, it will be found that he made an error in the 528th decimal place.
1839: At a meeting of the Friday Evening Discourse at the Royal Institution in London, Michael Faraday announces the discover of photography.
1858: A tradition is born when Britain’s Princess Victoria selects the "Bridal Chorus" from Richard Wagner’s Lohengrin (a/k/a "Here Comes the Bride") to be played at her wedding to Frederick, Crown Prince of Prussia.
1881: Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison form the Oriental Telephone Co., Ltd., to sell telephones in Greece, Turkey, South Africa, India, Japan, China, and other Asian countries.
1890: The United Mine Workers of America is formed at Columbus, Ohio, by a merger of the Knights of Labor Trade Assembly No. 135 and the National Progressive Union of Miners and Mine Laborers.
1890: Working for Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World, reporter Nellie Bly (born Elizabeth Jane Cochran) finishes her highly publicized around-the-world trip in 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes, 14 seconds, breaking Phineas Fogg's record.
1915: Speaking of Alexander Graham Bell, in a ceremony held by AT&T, the inventor, in New York, makes the first transcontinental telephone call to his old assistant Thomas Watson, in San Francisco. Bell repeats the words he said in the first-ever call—"Watson, come here, I need you." Watson quips, "This time it will take me a week or so."
1921: The New York Court of Appeals announces the modern doctrine of substantial performance in Jacob & Youngs v. Kent.
1937: Proctor & Gamble’s The Guiding Light begins its stint as the longest-running drama of all time when it debuts on NBC Radio. It will reach television in 1952.
1945: Grand Rapids, Michigan, becomes the first U.S. city to add fluoride to its drinking water.
1949: The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences awards its first Emmy awards. Top television program is Mike Sotkey’s Pantomime Quiz Time. Top TV personality is Shirley Dinsdale’s puppet, Judy Splinters (left).
1963: Sir Isaac Shoenberg, who as head of the research group at Electronic & Musical Industries (EMI) will develop the first high-definition television for the BBC in 1936, dies at age 73.
1985: Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie of Boston College signs a $7 million contract with the New Jersey Generals of the upstart United States Football League. It makes him the highest-paid football player, but the league later folds.
Monday, January 24, 2005
A hearty welcome to three new colleagues in the Law Professor Blog Network. We're joined by the new Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog, edited by Gerry Beyer (left) of St. Mary's in San Antone (who will bring some of the zip and verve of the UCC to the dull and stodgy field of T&E); Media Law Prof Blog, edited by Christine Corcos of LSU (a veteran who is already one of the editors of the blog Picturing Justice); and Law Librarian Blog, edited by Joe Hodnicki of Cincinnati.
Joe, by the way, is the technical guru who keeps this show running; feel free to drop him a line to thank him for the great work he does.
While employment disputes in the U.S. can be rough, they usually do not involve attempted assassination. But a Nigerian flight instructor, fired from his job at Capital Airline, Ltd., over an affair with his Ugandan girl friend, says that hired killers acting for his former employer are now after him.
Akintunde Sotomi, a nephew of Ade Isikalu, the airline’s Managing Director, brought Pamala Kinani with him to Nigeria and got her a job with the airline. Sotomi says things got complicated when he discovered that Uncle Ade and Kinani were having an affair.
Sotomi reported things to the company’s chair, who fired Isikalu for sexual harassment. So far, so good. But Isikalu’s replacement then apparently started having an affair with Kinani. Sotomi, angered, tried to get her deported, but he was ultimately fired himself. Since then, dangerous looking individuals carrying bags suitable for carrying weapons have been dropping by regularly to try and see him, although so far guards have stopped them.
41: Emperor Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus, better known as Caligula ("Bootsie") is murdered by his Praetorian Guards at age 29. Porn publisher Bob Guccione will later make a lot of money on a film of his short life.
1832: Alfred Yarrow is born in poverty in East London. In 1865 he begins the partnership of Yarrow & Hedley on the Isle of Dogs, building steam river launches and eventually becoming one of Britain's preeminent shipbuilders. One of his more prosaic innovations will be the first ferry boat capable of carrying automobiles.
1888: Ernst Heinrich Heinkel is born. After a stint as chief engineer for the Albatros Aircraft Co. of Berlin, he will in 1922 found Heinkel-Flugzeugwerke at Warnemünde, creating the first jet plane, the HE-178, in 1939.
1902: Economist and mathematician Oskar Morganstern is born. His development of "game theory" has probably led to more unintelligible law review articles than any other development of the 20th century, except perhaps the word processor.
1916: The United States Supreme Court declares the federal income tax unconstitutional in Brushaber v. Union Pacific Railroad.
1918: Evangelist Oral Roberts is born at Pontotoc City, Oklahoma. He will open the university that bears his name in 1965.
1922: Christian K. Nelson of Onawa, Iowa, receives a patent for the first chocolate-covered ice cream bar without a stick, described as "a block or brick or frozen confection within an edible container or shell." It's sold under the name "Eskimo Pie."
1935: The G. Krueger Brewing Co. of Newark, N.J., becomes the first to sell beer in metal cans, using a new process developed by the American Can Co. Krueger picks distant Richmond, Virginia, for a test market, in case the product (left) flops. It doesn't.
1947: Singer Warren (Lawyers, Guns, and Money) Zevon is born in Chicago, Illinois.
1948: IBM dedicates is "SSEC" computer in New York City. The thing takes up three sides of a 30' x 60' room. It has 13,000 vacuum tubes and 21,000 relays, together with 36 punched-paper readers.
1962: At the home of drummer Pete Best, the four members of The Beatles sign a five-year management contract with Brian Epstein. Epstein does not sign the contract, which everyone seems to think means the Beatles can get out of the deal any time.
1964: CBS television buys the rights to broadcast the 1965-66 National Football League schedule for $14.1 million.
1964: Jockey Willie Shoemaker becomes horse racing's all-time money leader, racking up $30,040,005 in purses.
1984: Apple Computer introduces the first computer with a graphical user interface, the Macintosh.
1986: Singer/actor Gordon MacRae, star of such TV shows as the Colgate Comedy Hour and Lux Television Theatre, dies of cancer in Lincoln, Nebraska.
1993: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall dies at age 84. When a group of Southern senators launched a confirmation fight and blocked his nomination to the U.S. Circuit Court in 1961, President Kennedy used a recess appointment to put him in the office.
This year A 30-second ad for Super Bowl XXXIX will go for about $2.4 million, up from last year’s $2.3 million. Reports say that Anheuser Busch will buy ten of them, and will be the exclusive beer sponsor. Even stodgy Volvo will take part, pushing its new gas-guzzling V-8 Sport Utility Vehicle.
Fox says that 95 percent of the ads are already sold for the Feb. 6 game in Jacksonville, which features the defending champion New England Patriots against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The affable Prior Aymer and the Knight Templar Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert are riding to a tournament, and intend to seek shelter at the house of Cedric the Saxon, guardian of the beautiful Lady Rowena, of whom Sir Brian has heard much.
"Prior Aymer," said the Templar, "you are a man of gallantry, learned in the study of beauty, and as expert as a troubadour in all matters concerning the 'arrets' of love; but I shall expect much beauty in this celebrated Rowena to counterbalance the self-denial and forbearance which I must exert if I am to court the favor of such a seditious churl as you have described her father Cedric."
"Cedric is not her father," replied the Prior, "and is but of remote relation: she is descended from higher blood than even he pretends to, and is but distantly connected with him by birth. Her guardian, however, he is, self-constituted as I believe; but his ward is as dear to him as if she were his own child. Of her beauty you shall soon be judge; and if the purity of her complexion, and the majestic, yet soft expression of a mild blue eye, do not chase from your memory the black-tressed girls of Palestine, ay, or the houris of old Mahound's paradise, I am an infidel, and no true son of the church."
"Should your boasted beauty," said the Templar, "be weighed in the balance and found wanting, you know our wager?"
"My gold collar," answered the Prior, "against ten butts of Chian wine;—they are mine as securely as if they were already in the convent vaults, under the key of old Dennis the cellarer."
"And I am myself to be judge," said the Templar, "and am only to be convicted on my own admission, that I have seen no maiden so beautiful since Pentecost was a twelvemonth. Ran it not so?—Prior, your collar is in danger; I will wear it over my gorget in the lists of Ashby-de-la-Zouche."
"Win it fairly," said the Prior, "and wear it as ye will; I will trust your giving true response, on your word as a knight and as a churchman. . . ."
Later, after the Templar first sees Rowena, he candidly admits to the Prior, "I shall wear no collar of gold of yours at the tournament. The Chian wine is your own."
Computer maker Hewlett Packard and software house Intergraph have signed a $141 million agreement that provides for cross-licensing of their intellectual property. HP will pay that amount to Intergraph to settle ongoing patent infringement litigation. Intergraph's claims related to HP's use of its cache memory (left) technology. Earlier deals were struck with Dell, Gateway, and Intel..
About $11 million of HP's payments will go toward legal fees, says Intergraph.
Sunday, January 23, 2005
The National Hockey League season may be on ice, as owners and players continue the lockout. But hockey fans are launching a legal battle to see that there’s a Stanley Cup awarded this year anyway. And it's going to raise an interesting question of interpretation.
The Cup, you see, predates the NHL; its original trust deed says it is to be awarded to the best team in the Dominion of Canada. Since 1927 the Cup (left) has been awarded to the NHL champion, and in 1947 the trustees turned it over to the NHL. But the league doesn’t own the cup.
Arguably, since the NHL champion (even if based in the U.S.) does play at least some of its games in Canada, it might logically be considered the best team in Canada. But since the NHL isn’t playing isn't playing this year, its teams can't be the year's best. So fans are hoping to get some hockey this year with a playoff of all the other Canadian leagues that are still playing. Their site, freestanley.com, has received 70,000 hits since it opened its doors a few weeks ago.