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]
New in Print
Ben Depoorter and Stephan Tontrup, How Law Frames Moral Intuitions: The Expressive Effect of Specific Performance. 54 Ariz. L. Rev. 673 (2012)
David Adam Friedman, Bringing Order to Contracts against Public Policy. 39 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. 563 (2012)
November 27, 2012
Two and a Half Men Actor May Have Breached Disparagement Clause [If He Has One]
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]
SCOTUS Smacks Down Oklahoma Supreme on Arbitration Law
In 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]
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November 26, 2012
Reminder: 8th International Conference on Contracts Upcoming in Forth Worth
Details can be found here.
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 email@example.com.
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.