ContractsProf Blog

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

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mo Money Mo Problems: Lawyer Up and Cautiously Wade into that Powerball Office Pool

You may have heard that the Powerball payoff is now at a $500+ million record.  There are a few news stories about being careful of what you wish for. (Note to next winner(s): use some of your winnings to hire someone to help you through that oh-so-troubling transition to having so much cash you don't know what to do with it.  And don't forget that you read that advice here).  

As bad as winning tons of money can be, one USA Today article advises that you should have the foresight to lawyer up before you even win anything.  The article warns to be "beware of the sharks swimming in your office lottery pool."  Here's some of the advice:

But if you join an office lottery pool, you may want to consult a lawyer first. Some workers who had thought they struck it rich have wound up in bitter litigation over who was really in the pool and who wasn't.

Lawsuits involving lottery pool winnings have been common enough to create a new set of case law, said Russ Weaver, a University of Louisville law professor. A cursory Google search shows some "Lotto lawyers" across the country who specialize in such disputes.

"Be very careful in advance," Weaver advised. "One thing you don't want to do is end up in litigation. Attorneys will eat up quite a bit of your winnings."

Weaver's advice for people who want to join workplace lottery pools: Make photocopies of the group lottery tickets and distribute them to members before the drawing so there's clear proof which tickets belong to the group and which belong to individuals.

Weaver said you need to be able to show, "Did you make the decision before or after the numbers came out?"

Just this March, a judge ordered Americo Lopes of New Jersey to share a $38.5 million jackpot with his lottery pool despite Lopes' claim that he bought the ticket on his own.

And after a March 30 drawing for a nationwide record-breaking $656 million Mega Millions jackpot, a lottery pool scandal erupted when Mirlande Wilson of Maryland came forward to claim the prize. Members of the lottery pool she participated in at a Baltimore McDonald's where she worked said they were entitled to part of the winnings, but Wilson claimed she bought the ticket on her own.

She later said she lost the ticket, and another group came forward with a winning ticket. Wilson's former co-workers sued her in October, claiming she secretly gave the lottery ticket to the second, smaller group so she would not have to split the money with as many people.

Apparently not all office pool stories end in litigation, which is good for the participants/employees.  Probably leaves the boss unhappy-  a whole lot of new employees to hire.

[Meredith R. Miller]

November 28, 2012 in In the News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New in Print

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Two and a Half Men Actor May Have Breached Disparagement Clause [If He Has One]

The show Two and a Half Men is no stranger to contracts drama.  Now there is this news story from Entertainment Weekly about the actor who plays the kid on the show:

Angus T. Jones could be in breach of contract for making a shocking declaration via You Tube today that Two and a Half Men is “filth” and that viewers should stop watching, some industry experts say.

Most actors’ deals typically include disparagement clauses that prohibit them from making negative statements about their show in public, but it’s rare for any studio to enforce such a codicil because what can be considered disparagement is so subjective and, as one high-powered source says, “What moron would stab the show that pays him?” Jones, as well as his costars Ashton Kutcher and Jon Cryer, renewed his contract in May for Men‘s current season. He’s earning a reported $300,000 per episode.

Warner Bros. TV would not comment on whether Jones’ deal includes such a boilerplate clause. And even if it did, it seems unlikely WBTV would act on it considering Jones is only 19 and also plays an integral role on the show, which is currently ranked as TV’s third most-watched comedy. Asks an exec at a competing studio, “What are they going to do, fire him?”

[Meredith R. Miller]

November 27, 2012 in Celebrity Contracts, In the News, Television | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

SCOTUS Smacks Down Oklahoma Supreme on Arbitration Law

Supremecourtjustices_2012In Nitro-Lift Technologies L.L.C. v. Howard, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari, vacated and remanded a case that came to it from the Oklahoma Supreme Court.  The first sentence of the Supreme Court's per curiam decision says it all:

  State courts rather than federal courts are most frequently called upon to apply the Federal Arbitration Act(FAA), 9 U. S. C. §1 et seq., including the Act’s nationalpolicy favoring arbitration. It is a matter of great importance, therefore, that state supreme courts adhere to a correct interpretation of the legislation. Here, the Oklahoma Supreme Court failed to do so. By declaring the noncompetition agreements in two employment contractsnull and void, rather than leaving that determination tothe arbitrator in the first instance, the state court ignored a basic tenet of the Act’s substantive arbitration law. The decision must be vacated. 

Although the trial court had dismissed Respondents' challenges to the enforceability of their non-competition clauses and would have allowed the arbitrator to decide the merits, the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck the non-competition clauses as violative of public policy.  In so doing, SCOTUS point out, the Oklahoma Supremes ignored clear case law providing that "attacks on the validity of the contract, as distinct from attacks on the validity of the arbitration clause itself, are to be resolved 'by the arbitrator in the first instance, not by a federal or state court.'" [citations omitted]

[JT]

November 27, 2012 in Recent Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Weekly Top Tens from the Social Science Research Network

RECENT HITS (for all papers announced in the last 60 days) 
TOP 10 Papers for Journal of Contracts & Commercial Law eJournal 

September 27, 2012 to November 26, 2012

RankDownloadsPaper Title
1 244 Libertarianism, Law and Economics, and the Common Law 
Todd J. Zywicki
George Mason University - School of Law, Faculty
2 211 The Cross-Border Freedom of Form Principle Under Reservation: The Role of Articles 12 and 96 CISG in Theory and Practice 
Ulrich G. Schroeter
University of Mannheim - Faculty of Law
3 169 Seduction by Contract: Law, Economics and Psychology in Consumer Markets - Introduction 
Oren Bar-Gill
New York University (NYU) - School of Law
4 152 Express Contract Terms and the Implied Contractual Covenant of Delaware Law 
Mohsen Manesh
University of Oregon School of Law
5 133 CISG and CESL 
Ulrich Magnus
c/o Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law
6 104 Lewellyn Slept Here: A Short History of Sticky Contracts and Feudalism 
Cheryl B. PrestonEli McCann
Brigham Young University - J. Reuben Clark Law School, Unaffiliated Authors - affiliation not provided to SSRN
7 77 An EU Law for Cross-Border Sales Only – Its Meaning and Implications in Open Markets 
Jürgen Basedow
Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law
8 76 Commercial Sales: The Common European Sales Law Compared to the Vienna Sales Convention 
Marco LoosHarriët Schelhaas
University of Amsterdam - Centre for the Study of European Contract Law (CSECL), Unaffiliated Authors - affiliation not provided to SSRN
9 75 Markets as a Moral Foundation for Contract Law 
Nathan B. Oman
William & Mary Law School
10 67 In Defense of Commercial Capitalism: Lessius, Partnerships and the Contractus Trinus 
Wim Decock
Max-Planck-Institute for European Legal History,

RECENT HITS (for all papers announced in the last 60 days) 
TOP 10 Papers for Journal of LSN: Contracts (Topic)  

September 27, 2012 to November 26, 2012

RankDownloadsPaper Title
1 211 The Cross-Border Freedom of Form Principle Under Reservation: The Role of Articles 12 and 96 CISG in Theory and Practice 
Ulrich G. Schroeter
University of Mannheim - Faculty of Law,
2 152 Express Contract Terms and the Implied Contractual Covenant of Delaware Law 
Mohsen Manesh
University of Oregon School of Law
3 133 CISG and CESL 
Ulrich Magnus
c/o Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law
4 126 Harmonization of Private International Law in Europe and Application of Foreign Law: The Madrid Principles of 2010 
Carlos Esplugues
University of Valencia - Faculty of Law
5 104 Lewellyn Slept Here: A Short History of Sticky Contracts and Feudalism 
Cheryl B. PrestonEli McCann
Brigham Young University - J. Reuben Clark Law School, Unaffiliated Authors - affiliation not provided to SSRN
6 77 An EU Law for Cross-Border Sales Only – Its Meaning and Implications in Open Markets 
Jürgen Basedow
Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law
7 76 Commercial Sales: The Common European Sales Law Compared to the Vienna Sales Convention 
Marco LoosHarriët Schelhaas
University of Amsterdam - Centre for the Study of European Contract Law (CSECL), Unaffiliated Authors - affiliation not provided to SSRN
8 75 Markets as a Moral Foundation for Contract Law 
Nathan B. Oman
William & Mary Law School
9 67 In Defense of Commercial Capitalism: Lessius, Partnerships and the Contractus Trinus 
Wim Decock
Max-Planck-Institute for European Legal History
10 67 Contract Theory and the Failures of Public-Private Contracting 
Wendy Netter EpsteinWendy Netter Epstein
Illinois Institute of Technology - Chicago-Kent College of Law, Kirkland & Ellis

[JT]

November 27, 2012 in Recent Scholarship | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Reminder: 8th International Conference on Contracts Upcoming in Forth Worth

Details can be found here.

Fort_Worth_c1920_loc_6a14633

 
8th Annual International Conference on Contracts - Calls for Papers

Submissions are cordially invited for the 8th Annual International Conference on Contracts, the largest annual scholarly and educational conference devoted to contracts and related areas of commercial law. Papers and works-in-progress are welcome from those who study contracts from any perspective, whether doctrinal, pedagogical, theoretical, empirical, historical, economic, critical, comparative, or interdisciplinary. Works that take an international or civil law approach are also welcome. Junior scholars are particularly encouraged to participate. Those interested in proposing and organizing panels (3-5 presenters) on specific themes are especially encouraged to do so.
 
Individual submissions should be made by a brief abstract (one page is sufficient) of the paper or WIP that includes contact information for the author(s). Individual submissions will be placed on panels with like submissions. Panel proposals should include the name and contact information of the moderator or organizer, and a summary of the proposed papers or works in progress. There is no publication commitment for the conference, but organizers of individual panels are free to arrange for publication on their own.
 
Submissions: Deadline is Monday, Dec. 17, 2012. Proposals submitted earlier will be accepted on a rolling basis. Proposals submitted after the deadline will be accepted on a space-available basis. Submissions should be directed to: Franklin G. Snyder at fsnyder@law.txwes.edu.

Conference: The 8th Annual International Conference on Contracts will be Friday, Feb. 22, 2013 at Texas Wesleyan School of Law, 1515 Commerce Street in Fort Worth.

Registration: Fee for the conference is $249 ($299 after Jan. 1, 2013), which includes a continental breakfast and lunch on both Friday and Saturday, and the conference dinner on Friday night. A website for conference registration and other information will soon be available.

Accommodations: The conference hotel is the Sheraton Fort Worth Hotel and Spa, which has a special rate of $129/night for those who book before Jan. 21, 2013. The Sheraton is across the street from Texas Wesleyan School of Law. The law school and the hotel are less than a half-hour from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, and three blocks from the Intermodal Transportation Center. A free shuttle bus links the school and the hotel with popular Fort Worth destinations including Sundance Square and the Historic Stockyards. Commuter rail service makes popular Dallas destinations such as Dealey Plaza, the Sixth Floor Museum, the Deep Ellum musical scene, and the American Airlines Center easily accessible from the hotel and the law school.  

[JT]

November 26, 2012 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)