ContractsProf Blog

Editor: D. A. Jeremy Telman
Valparaiso Univ. Law School

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Monday, August 31, 2009

Contracts Limerick of the Week: Lefkowitz

Lefkowitz Coat I am teaching Lefkowitz v. Great Minneapolis Surplus Store for the first time this year.  I don't know why this case has fallen out of the casebooks; I really like it.  I also teach Izadi v. Machado Ford, Inc. (about which more in next week's Limerick), and I like that case too, but I think they will teach well together because I think Lefkowitz is pretty clearly rightly decided, while I have my doubts about Izadi.

The reason I like Lefkowitz is that it provides lots of opportunities to talk about what constitutes an offer, as well as the sub-topic of when an ad can qualify as an offer.  It also provides an opportunity to talk about the need for damages to be calculable with reasonable certainty.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I do not start with damages, but I try to bring them into the conversation wherever possible, since as my colleague Alan White stresses, ultimately, contracts cases are about getting some recovery for your clients.  The casebook that we both use, Law in Action, appropriately stresses that the storybook contract with an easily identifiable offer followed by a clear acceptance does not capture the much more tohu vavohu world of actual commercial interactions.  I do not quarrel with that principle, but I still think you've got to be able to swim before you can synchronized swim.  So I start with the basics, even if they may be Platonic forms.

In any case, to celebrate the return of Lefkowitz to my syllabus, I have composed a new Limerick, which I acknowledge does not do the case justice.  By the way, after I introduced my new students to the Limerick approach to contracts pedagogy, one of them asked how much time I spend composing them -- as if he could think of better uses for my time!  Well, in this case, the answer is about 20 minutes.  Next week's Limerick was more of an epiphany; it only took me ten minutes.

Lefkowitz v. Great Minneapolis Surplus Store

Mo Lefkowitz made his career
Finding ads explicit and clear.
He's the first to the store;
Now he's got furs galore,
And the price that he pays isn't dear.

[Jeremy Telman]

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