ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Monday, February 14, 2005

Expressio unius?

The contract of baseball slugger and alleged steroid user Jason Giambi may give rise to an interesting contract interpretation question.

The standard baseball contract, it seems, contains provisions barring the player from using various performance-enhancing substances.  It specifically mentions "steroids."  During negotiation of Giambi's contract with the New York Yankees, the term "steroids" was dropped, although general language remained.

One reading of the contract is that cutting the term "steroids" was a recognition that Giambi used steroids, and thus that using them would not be a breach of his contract.  The Yankees, however, apparently are arguing that the term was dropped because it was surplusage, and that steroids were already covered under the remaining broad language of the agreement.

February 14, 2005 in In the News | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

News in brief

General Motors agrees to pay $2 billion to get out of its on-going contract dispute with Fiat; the two will also dissolve their five-year-old partnership.

Victoria and South Australia are battling over which will land a critical $6 billion Australian government shipbuilding contract.

ConocoPhillips Petroleum and Venezuela have renegotiated their oil agreement, which calls for $10 billion in investment over five years.

Union workers at Volvo Trucks North America have rejected the company's latest contract offer.

Huntsville (Ala.) Utilities wins a $33.5 million judgment against an Indianapolis energy company, for fraud and breach of contract.

Rutgers University is requiring the "Grease Trucks" that serve lunch to students to change the "offensive" names of some of their food offerings or risk fines or expulsion from campus.

A Nobel-winning former Yale prof will have to pay the University $1 million for "stealing" and licensing his own invention.

A medical software company will pay some $14 million to employees who claim that the company cut their promised bonuses.

The recently opened Harry Blackmun papers contain something that is, oddly enough, really funny.

February 14, 2005 in In the News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Loathsome § 2-207: The Musical

From the Department of Contracts Musicology, the first song about the U.C.C.'s most infamous provision that you can actually slow-dance to . . . .

Continue reading

February 14, 2005 in Miscellaneous | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Film Clips

Penn Jillette [on bottled water]:  Consumers are offered water with names conveying pure and pristine water sources.  Ever hear of Alaskan Falls water? That must come from the crystal-clear glacial waters of our 49th state, right?  Sorry, folks.  Alaskan flows from this liqui-box corporation building [showing] in Worthington, Ohio.  Does the brand Yosemite conjure up visions of the cool, pristine waters rushing through California's high sierras?  Well, then the marketers have done their jobs.  The source of Yosemite bottled water is actually 400 miles away in Northwest Los Angeles.  How about Everest Water?  Could our piddly show possibly afford to send a camera crew to Nepal?  NOT NECESSARY!   Everest comes from the industrial section of Corpus Christi, Texas!  In fact if you read the fine print on the FUCKING LABEL, they even admit that the water comes from a MUNICIPAL SOURCE!  THAT IS TAP WATER, BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF THE CULT OF THE BOTTLE!

              Penn and Teller: Bullshit (Showtime 2003)

February 14, 2005 in Film Clips | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Cases—Implied Terms—Buyer not responsible for seller’s supplies

A supplier who was stuck with a lot of perishable inventory when the supply contract ended could not recover those costs from the buyer, according to a the Washington Court of Appeals.

The supplier, Seneca Beverages, had a deal to supply beverage concentrate to Starbuck’s for its “Tiazzi” line of fruit beverages.  To ensure a ready supply, it stocked up on many of the ingredients, which were perishable.  Starbuck’s and Seneca had been negotiating an agreement regarding who would be responsible for such stocks, but Seneca never signed it.  After Seneca eventually terminated the agreement, it sued, claiming (among other things) (a) an implied-in-fact contract based on trade usage and the parties’ prior dealings, and (b) a claim that the parties had an oral agreement that Starbuck’s to buy the ingredients.

The court rejected the claims.  Reviewing the evidence, the court found no “meeting of the minds” that Starbuck’s would be responsible for the unused ingredients.  Moreover, the oral statements during negotiations did not create a contract because the parties intended to create a written document that Seneca subsequently refused to sign.

Seneca Foods Corp. v. Starbucks Corp., 2005 Wash. App. LEXIS 211 (Feb. 3, 2005).

February 14, 2005 in Recent Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Today in history--February 14

1766: Thomas Malthus, who will become Britain's first professor of political economy at the East India Company College at Hertford, is born at Surrey, England.

1803: The U.S. Supreme Court holds in Marbury v. Madison that Congressional acts that conflict with the Constitution, or are otherwise thought to be a bad idea by judges, are invalid.

1849: James Knox Polk becomes the first U.S. president to have his photograph taken.  He is the last who has to be talked into doing it.

1854: The first telegraph line reaches the new state of Texas, connecting New Orleans with Marshall, Texas.

1859: Oregon is admitted to the Union as the 33rd U.S. state.

1876: Alexander Graham Bell files a patent application for a new device called the "telephone."

1903: The United States Department of Commerce and Labor is created.  A decade later it will be split in two.

1912: Arizona is admitted to the union as the 48th state.

1924: The Computer Tabulating Recording Corp. of Binghamton, New York, in business (through a predecessor) since 1896, changes its name to International Business Machines, or "IBM."

1946: The United Kingdom nationalizes the Bank of England.

1966: Australia switches to decimal currency.

1975: Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, best known as the creator of Bertie Wooster and Jeeves, dies at Remsenberg, Long Island.  He once caught the teacher's dilemma perfectly:  "Her pupils were at once her salvation and her despair. They gave her the means of supporting life, but they made life hardly worth supporting."

1984: American ornithologist James Bond, the man for whom Ian Fleming's famous British spy is named, dies in Philadelphia.  He remains the only person associated with the Bond legend who hasn't gotten rich.

February 14, 2005 in Today in History | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 13, 2005

News in brief

San Jose taxpayers will save $1 million under a new contract with Nortel, after the city was forced to re-bid a prior contract with Cisco Systems, its biggest employer.

An Australian puppy farm charged with animal cruelty settles by signing a "contract" with a local council to abide by the regulations.

After seven years of negotiations, two local Michigan governments reach a deal over water supplies, but are still "months and months" away from signing a contract.

Football's Miami Dolphins are seeking $8.6 million in restitution from former star Ricky Williams; an arbitrator ruled that Williams owed that after "retiring" in the middle of a contract that provided a hefty signing bonus.

Texas A&M University is being sued by a man who says the school has mismanaged the scholarship fund he set up to honor his parents in 1979.

A Vermont ski resort that brought foreign students into coming to the U.S. to work and then had no work for them because there was no snow, says that the students should have read the contracts.  "What people feel they were promised and what they were actually promised," said a spokesman, "are two different things."

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

Cases—Conditions—Failure to comply with cooperation clause

An insured who violated the “cooperation” clause of his fire insurance contract by refusing to turn over financial records to the carrier had failed to meet the policy conditions, and therefore the carrier was entitled to summary judgment, said the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

The insured, Russell Doerr, had a policy with Allstate for a piece of rental property.  A clause required that, in the event of claim, Doerr must produce “all books of account, bills, invoices and other vouchers, . . . which we [Allstate] may reasonably request.”  The property had been in “deplorable condition” and Doerr had been trying to get rid of it at the time fire struck.  Firefighters determined that it was arson, and  Allstate demanded that Doerr provide “income tax returns, rental property records, bank statements, credit card account statements, and cellular phone statements.”  Doerr refused, and Allstate therefore denied the claim.

Doerr argued that the requested records were not “relevant” to the claim, but the court disagreed, noting that where arson is involved the financial situation of the owner is always relevant to determining whether the owner was responsible.

Doerr v. Allstate Insurance Co., 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 1839 (6th Cir. Feb. 3, 2005).

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

Today in history--February 13

1801: The Judiciary Act of 1801 creates the U.S. Circuit Courts

1866: Alexander Franklin "Frank" James and his 18-year-old brother Jesse, together with Jim and Cole Younger, commit the first daylight peacetime bank robbery in U.S. history.  They net $62,000 (about $700,000 today) from the Clay County (Mo.) Savings Bank and kill a 17-year-old boy in the process.

1910: William Bradford Shockley, whose Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory at Beckman Instruments will serve as the original seedbed of what is now called "Silicon Valley," is born to American parents in London, England.

1914: The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) is formed in New York to combat music piracy.

1944: TV phenomenon and former Cleveland mayor Gerald Norman "Jerry" Springer (Northwestern Law 1968) is born in London, England.  In 2004 he will be named Ohio's Democrat of the Year.

1946: The world's first electronic digital computer, ENIAC, is demonstrated for the first time at the University of Pennsylvania.

1962: Karl Nickerson Llewellyn dies of a heart attack in Chicago at age 68.

1988: Singer Michael Jackson buys a ranch in Santa Ynez, California.  He renames it "Neverland."

1997: The world's most expensive service call is made, as astronauts begin repairs on the defective Hubble Space Telescope.  It is not under warranty.

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