ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Friday, June 6, 2008

I'll make her an offer she can't refuse...

For those of you that yearn for the guilty pleasure of celebrity related contract news, book publisher HarperCollins has sued mob daughter Victoria Gotti for the return of a $70,000 advance on a memoir. Reuters reports:

Gotti and HarperCollins signed a contract in 2005 for two books, including an untitled memoir, according to the lawsuit filed in New York state court, which accused Gotti of breach of contract.

Gotti, who was once a columnist for the New York Post, has written several books and was the star of the reality television show "Growing up Gotti."

She was paid $70,000 for the memoir and promised to deliver a complete manuscript by November 2005.

Gotti twice delivered an outline of the book but the outlines were rejected as "unacceptable" by the publishing house and she was advised that the outlines "were not capable of producing a complete manuscript," the lawsuit said.

Gotti was asked to return the money but never complied, it said.

Gotti was not immediately available for comment.

[Meredith R. Miller]

June 6, 2008 in In the News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Icj_2 I'm interrupting my vacation to bring this breaking news.  I have already posted numerous times (e.g., here, here, and here) on the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Medellin v. Texas, in which the Court found that the State of Texas does not have to implement the International Court of Justice's Avena decision. 

Now, as reported on Opinio Juris and the International Law Profs Blog, Mexico has upped the ante, bringing a new case before the International Court of Justice (represented metonymically at left) and seeking both provisional measures to prevent the execution of Mexican nationals denied their VCCR rights and an order that the U.S. provide "review and reconsideration" of cases involving such Mexican nationals in accordance with the Avena decision.

I call this sweet for three reasons: first, it allows the ICJ to weigh in on Chief Justice Roberts' view that the sole remedy  for a state's failure to abide by a judgment of the ICJ is a political solution via the U.N. Security Council.  Second, it could even permit the ICJ to suggest what practical steps the United States must take, in light of the Medellin case, in order to comply with its obligations under the VCCR and Avena.  Third -- perhaps the sweetest of all -- the Bush administration basically backed Mexico in the Medellin case, calling upon Texas to provide review and reconsideration in accordance with Avena.  But it did so in a rather diffident manner, through a Presidential memo (what, Dubya couldn't find the form for an executive order?!?) which cited the principle of comity as the basis for its directive to the states to implement the Avena decision.  So what will the administration do now when Mexico is in effect calling its bluff.  Will the Bush administration introduce legislation calling on state courts to provide review and reconsideration of Avena defendants' convictions and sentences which, according to the Roberts Court, would suffice to override state procedural rules barring successive habeas petitions?

[Jeremy Telman]

June 5, 2008 in Commentary, In the News, Recent Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Away for the Weekend

I will be away this weekend, attending the West Chester University Poetry Conference.  Hopefully, I will be able to brush up on my prosody a bit and thus improve the Limericks.

If you are in the Philadelphia area and would benefit from some instruction in the area of formal poetry, you should stop in.  Or keep the conference in mind for next year.  It is an annual event and I think unique (as poetry conferences go in the United States) in its (non-exclusive) focus on rhymed, metrical poetry.

Full disclosure: one reason I am partial to this conference is that my wife is on the faculty, as are several of my favorite poets (and I like their poetry too).

[Jeremy Telman]

June 5, 2008 in About this Blog | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Weiskopf on Lady Duff

Ladyduffgordon1919 St Johns University's Nicholas Weiskopf has a new article forthcoming in the Pace Law Review about Cardozo's famous decision involving Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon (pictured).  It's always nice to have occassion to ponder Lady Duff-Gordon and Cardozo's opinion in the Wood v, Lucy case, even if, as Professor Weiskopf notes, the case seems to be falling out of favor.  Here is the abstract:

This piece was prepared in connection with a Fall Law School Symposium marking the 90th anniversary of Judge Cardozo's famous New York Court of Appeals decision in Wood v. Lucy 222 N.Y. 88, 118 N.E. 214 (1917). It deals with tensions in the case law as to whether the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing may permissibly create contractual duties wholly independent of any actually agreed to by the parties, whether on a theory of presumed intent or what in actuality is judicially legislated construction designed to preserve minimum decencies. Wood, with its finding of a reasonable efforts requirement to be imposed on one with a marketing exclusive, is described as an early example of the latter approach, and contrasted to decisions which, to this day, insist that good faith can only be used to prevent abuse of actual terms of agreement.

[Jeremy Telman]

June 5, 2008 in Famous Cases, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Supersonic Contract Dispute


This is Seattle.  A nice place for a basketball team.  Or so thought former Seattle Supersonics owner, Howard Schultz.

Oklahoma_city_1890_3 This is Oklahoma City, home of the new owners of the team, including the group's chairman, Clay Bennett.  A bit retro, but still nice.

But Howard Schultz is not pleased, and according to, he is suing the Bennett group for (among other things), you guessed it! - breach of contract.  Schultz argues that the new owners violated the contract by failing to make a good faith attempt to keep the team in Seattle.  According to Schultz's attorney, the sale of the team was negotiated on condition that the Bennett's group negotiate or propose "a reasonable arena plan, instead [of] proposing an arena substantially exceeding the team's needs and requiring unprecedented amounts in public subsidies."

According to the Seattle Times, the Schultz suit seeks to unwind the sale transaction based on fraud, misrepresentation and breach of contract.  Key evidence in the suit turned up in the form of e-mails exchanged among the Oklahoma City partners suggesting that they had intended to move the team to Oklahoma City all along.

The City of Seattle is also suing the Bennett group, seeking to force the team to play in Seattle until the end of its lease with the city's KeyArena.  The Bennett group has offered to pay the remaining rent on the facility but that may not be enough to placate the city.

[Jeremy Telman]

June 5, 2008 in In the News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Limerick of the Week: Hoddeson v. Koos Bros.

Shakespeare Shakespeare?  Overrated!  I mean, I've looked through the guy's works -- ahem, excuse me, oeuvre -- and I have many complaints.  First, the guy can't spell.  Second, his plays are full of cliches.  "There's something rotten in the state of Denmark;" "To be or not to be;" "It was [all] Greek to me;" "All the world's a stage;" "Parting is such sweet sorrow;" etc., etc.  Sheesh.  Get a ghost writer if you can't come up with your own ideas.  Third, if this so-called poet thinks that "brevity is the soul of wit," why does he have this thing for sonnets?  Why say something in fourteen lines of pentameter that can be said in five lines of trimeter and dimeter?  Indeed, the man wrote all these plays and sonnets, but not a stinkin' Limerick!! And still, courts quote him with abandon, as if he were a source of law, like foreign law and international law is.

To wit, in Hoddeson v. Koos Bros., the court explains Ms. Hoddeson's trip to the furniture store as follows: "her eyes had fallen upon certain articles of bedroom furniture which she ardently desired to acquire for her home."  Understandable.  The learned judge continues: "It has been said that 'the sea hath bounds but deep desire hath none.'"  I knew right off (from the misspellings/archaisms) that this must be Shakespeare.  Fancy.  Big deal.  The case isn't even about maritime law.

Anyway, after lengthy negotiations, Ms. Hoddeson tendered $168.50 to what she took to be a salesman.  He told her to expect delivery of the furniture but did not give a receipt.  This man turned out to be a silver-haired mountebank and the furniture never arrived.  Indeed, this is the stuff of tragedy.  A truly great tradegian would find suitable materials here.  But the case also serves to illustrate the doctrine of agency by estoppel.  A wordy person could write a sonnet to convey that information, but a truly talented poet can make due with a Limerick:

Hoddeson v. Koos Bros.

"Desire hath no bounds," quoth the bard,
But Ms. Hoddeson had maxed out her card!
Unless the store is estopped,
Her suit must be dropped
And shoppers must be on their guard.

[Jeremy Telman]

June 2, 2008 in Famous Cases, Limericks, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)