Wednesday, November 7, 2012
As reported here by the BloombergBusinessweek, Jay Kramer, former attorney for master of horror, Stephen King, filed suit in New York’s Supreme Court against the author’s agents, Arthur B. Greene and Susan Greene of the Arthur B. Greene Literary Agency, alleging conversion of commissions for work performed, breach of contract, quantum merit/unjust enrichment, and tortious interference.
Kramer was fired on March 30th after having worked for Mr. King for thirty years. He alleges that the defendants have withheld his commission for several projects that he helped broker, including film and television production projects based on King's writings: Secret Window, The Stand, and 1408, among others. Kramer alleges that after he was fired, the Greenes “jointly and severally began diverting the sums owed to [him] to their own account.” Kramer is asking for $1 million in damages.
[Christina Phillips & JT]
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Sam Lufti, former self-proclaimed manager to Britney Spears (left), filed suit against the “Baby One More Time” pop-star for breach of contract, against her father for assault and battery, and against her mother for defamation. Lutfi alleges he had a multi-year contract with the singer that entitled him to 15% of her income. However, as reported here by the New York Daily News, Lufti was unable to recall ever telling a single person that Spears promised to pay him 15% of her income, nor was he able to produce an adequate written contract. He could only provide a form contract that he downloaded from the internet, which he claimed he had used to make an oral agreement with Ms. Spears.
As reported on Fox News here, the suit was dismissed on Friday as Mr. Lufti was able to make out any of his claims against Ms. Spears or her parents.
[Christina Phillips & JT]
Monday, November 5, 2012
This week we have a guest blogger, Chris Osborn (pictured), a relative newcomer to the world of contracts profs, but already setting cases to Limericks. Below is Chris's summary of Hooters of America v. Phillips, 173 F.3d 933 (4th Cir. 1999).
In Phillips, a waitress employed at a Hooters restaurant in Myrtle Beach, SC reported to her manager that she had been sexually harassed by the local franchise owner’s brother. Ms. Phillips claimed that the manager responded that she should “let it go,” whereupon she resigned and retained counsel. When her attorney contacted the franchisor, Hooters of America, Inc. (Hooters), and gave notice of the claim, Hooters invoked an arbitration clause in an employment agreement that the claimant had signed several years after she was hired. Hooters then filed a declaratory judgment action in federal district court and a motion to enjoin the plaintiff from filing suit (which was treated as a motion to compel arbitration).
In opposing the motion, Ms. Phillips contended that the arbitration clause was not entered knowingly and voluntarily, was unconscionable, and was not supported by consideration. The U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina found the arbitration clause unenforceable, holding inter alia that since the clause was not contained in her initial employment contract, it had to be supported by some additional consideration. The court then examined the mutual promise to arbitrate unenforceable. In particular, the court found that the arbitration Rules & Procedures bound the employee but gave the employer alone the right to terminate the agreement to arbitrate at any time on 30 days’ notice. Moreover, the Rules and Procedures also held the employer to significantly less onerous pleading, discovery, and trial procedures. Accordingly, the court ruled that Hooters’ promise to arbitrate was illusory (which makes it reminiscent of another case recently reduced to a Limerick, Vassilkovska), and thus it could not serve as consideration for the employee’s promise to submit her claims to arbitration.
The Fourth Circuit affirmed.
Here are the (three!) Limericks:
When Miss Phillips, crying conduct discriminatory
Sought redress for her boss’ tomfoolery
Her employer said, “Wait,
You made a promise to arbitrate!”
But the court ruled the whole thing illusory.
“When harassed on the job (wouldn’t ya know?)
A young Hooter’s girl could not “let it go….”
When the restaurant stalled,
The court was appalled
“Was there any consideration here? No. “
When a harassed young waitress brought suit
Her employer did not give a hoot
It tried to stay litigation
And demand arbitration
But the court ruled the sham clause was moot.