ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Benefits of Teaching Across the Curriculum

This year, for the first time since I have been teaching at the VU School of Law, my colleague JoEllen Lind gave her students a contracts-based hypothetical in the pleading exercise she does with them every year for Civil Procedure.  The result has been a steady stream of sheepish 1Ls apologetically trying to "confirm" that they are headed in the right directions with their projects.  It is a great educational experience -- especially for me.  I have learned which doctrines they have firmly in their grasp -- they really seem to understand the concept of promissory estoppel, and some of them know the statute of frauds so well, they think that all contracts must be in writing -- and which doctrines still elude them.  

The exercise has provided me with a great opportunity to review the materials for my course with my students.  There is nothing like an assignment -- I don't even know if it is graded -- to focus the mind.  It helps that JoEllen describes her teaching persona as "Cruella de Vil."  Students flee from her smoke-filled cabinet of horrors into the cozy book-lined study of the avuncular contracts prof.  

[Jeremy Telman]

October 15, 2009 in Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Just in Time for Halloween: Stambovsky v. Ackley revisited?

Haunted-house2 Previously on this blog, Eric Goldman provided a wonderful compilation of resources for Stambovsky v. Ackley -- the haunted house case.  Maybe the West Village will get a haunted house case all of its own.  The Daily News Reports:

A West Village house with a resident ghost is back on the market - just in time for Halloween.

The historic Gay St. property, on the corner of Waverly Place, is rumored to be inhabited by a restless spirit who walks the creaking floorboards at night.

Legend has it a man in top hat and tails has been spotted in the building; some local historians say it is former Mayor Jimmy Walker, who once owned it.

"I wouldn't go in there right now - it's legendary that ghosts live there," said Randy Credico, 54, who has rented an apartment across the street from the haunted house for two decades. "That place would be like moving into 'The Shining.' "

The property, recently put on the market by realtors Corcoran, comes with a $4.2 million price tag - ghosts included.

It was built in 1827 and housed a speakeasy before Walker bought it for his mistress, Betty Compton, in the 1920s.

Puppeteer Frank Paris, who designed the original Howdy Doody, also lived there. Most recently it was home to Scientific Americaneditor Dennis Flanagan and his wife, Barbara.

Records show the Flanagans sold it in 2007. It has been gutted and is now an empty shell.

"I never saw him, I never heard him," Barbara Flanagan said of the ghost. "I never smelled anything - except onions. The stairs were creaky, but you know what? It was a 200-year-old house. Now it really looks like a haunted house - I guess it's a self-fulfilling prophesy." 

Other longtime Gay St. residents say the rumors about the street's uninvited houseguests go with the territory.

"There are ghosts in all of these buildings," said Celeste Martin, who owns and manages the next-door townhouse. "They talk; they're living things these buildings."

Martin said that over the years, she has seen mysterious faces in windows and heard inexplicable noises. "It just happens, it's very spiritual," she said.

A Corcoran real estate agent said the company wasn't aware of the home's storied past.

West Village ghost tour guide and historian Phil Schoenburg doesn't expect a prospective buyer to be deterred by the spirits. 

"Whoever moves in will be creative," he said. "Some people like ghosts. They think it keeps the burglars away."

[Meredith R. Miller]

October 14, 2009 in In the News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Nobel Prize in Economics goes to Academics Who Pay Attention to “What Happens in the Real World” and Contracts

Elinor Ostrom and Oliver Williamson were awarded the Nobel Prize in economics earlier this week.  The WSJ describes both of their work has “highlight[ing] areas where standard approaches of economics are inadequate at explaining what actually occurs.”  Further, the WSJ explains (subscription required):
Mr. Williamson's work is driven by two key ideas. The first is that a contractual agreement can never be complete; there are always contingencies that haven't been accounted for. The other is that people act opportunistically within the gray area of contracts to make sure they benefit the most, and that can lead to problems.
Congrats to both economists.

[Meredith R. Miller]

October 14, 2009 in In the News | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Twelve Year Old Girl Bests Phillies' Slugger

In order to try to pump some energy into their dull sport, baseball announcers are constantly reminding their viewers that they are witnessing history: 

"You saw it here first, folks! That is the first time a third baseman has thrown two balls into the stands in the same inning!  Wow, some lucky fan has a valuable souvenir. . . . Wait a minute, folks.  Our statistician is telling me that this is not the first time that has happened. . . .  Has it ever happened in this ball park?  Oh.  In the third inning? . . .  Un-huh, but was it a day game?. . .  So there you have it folks, we have confirmed that this is the first time in baseball history that a National League third baseman has thrown two balls into the stands in the same inning during an inter-league day game played in an American League park in the year that he is due to become a free agent!  Wow!  Imagine that!"

Ryan_Howard3 And so, according to this view of history, Phillies' Slugger Ryan Howard (pictured) made history, as reported on, when he hit his 200th home run in his 658th major league game, making him the fastest player to reach the milestone, besting the previous record by 48 games.  It is a great achievement, but I’m not sure if it is really one for the history books, even if CNN says it is.  The lucky fan to retrieve the ball was 12-year-old Jennifer Valdivia, who apparently bested her 17-year-old brother in the treasure hunt. 

An official from the home team, the Florida Marlins, then reportedly escorted Jennifer and her brother to the Phillies’ dugout.  There, CNN reports that the following transaction occurred:

A Phillies employee, Jennifer says, told her if she handed over the ball, she could come back after the game, meet the slugger and get him to autograph it. She gave the ball up. In exchange, she got cotton candy and a soda.

Alas, after the game, she and her family went to the Philllies’ clubhouse as directed, but Ryan Howard never showed up.  A security guard gave her a signed ball, but it wasn’t the ball.  Jennifer testified that she was, “like, really sad.”  Jennifer’s mother was more than sad, she was “steamed.”  Eventually, she was also represented by an attorney who, through the alchemical processes in which attorneys specialize, metamorphosed anger and disappointment into a legal claim for $15,000.  The Phillies’ and Howard’s resistance were thereby overcome.  They returned the home run ball to Jennifer and also paid her attorney's fees. 

Jennifer says that she intends to keep the ball and to show it to her kids.  I hope she does, rather than selling it.  As CNN notes, letting fans keep balls is a way of letting them connect with their baseball heroes.  We ought not to put a price tag on being a part of history.

[Jeremy Telman]

October 12, 2009 in Celebrity Contracts, In the News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)