Monday, February 6, 2012
Some may find this clip from The Big Bang Theory useful in illustrating some contractual interpretation maxims, including "interpret against the drafter" and "read the contract in a way that gives meaning to the whole." It also addresses the general concept of ambiguity. In the clip, Sheldon accuses his roommate and fellow physicist, Leonard, of violating two terms of their "roommate agreement." The first involves Leonard's denial of access to the bathroom in the event of an "emergency" experienced by Sheldon. Leonard's girlfriend, Priya, rather convincingly argues that the term "emergency" is ambiguous and that it should be interpreted against Sheldon, the agreement's drafter. The second allegedly violated term involves unauthorized use of the shower by more than one person. Priya navigates around this term by arguing that another term of the agreement regarding hot water conservation trumps the "one person per shower" provision, perhaps illustrating the maxim of "specific beats general." (Note: The clip appears authorized by CBS, WB, et. al, as far as I can tell, but I make no warranties on that or, well, anything else I write).
[H.R. Anderson, h/t to student, Ellie Holub]