ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Contracts Conundrum in Breaking Bad?






Bob Odenkirk (Saul Goodman) [Photograph by Gage Skidmore]
If you've been watching Breaking Bad, you will recall that Walt entered into an agreement with his fomer employee, Todd's Uncle Jack, a fine fellow, if you like swastika tatoos.  The deal was that Walt would do one more cook in exchange for Uncle Jack and his crew rubbing out Jesse Pinkman.  Seems like a lose-lose proposition.

Jesse is still alive for now, and Walt seems to no longer be required to cook, having supplied Uncle Jack and his crew with $69 million.  Despite that wealth, Todd seems keen to keep cooking and is going to force Jesse to help him raise the purity of the cook.  

It seems that we have here a modification of an existing contract to which both parties have agreed.  And there seems to be consideration on both sides, since Walt got to keep $11 million instead of having to cook.  It may be a problem that the $11 million was already Walt's, although I suppose Walt would have a decent duress argument, given that the deal was negotiated while he in handcuffs and being held at gunpoint.   Perhaps the modification is fair and equitable in light of an unforeseen change in circumstances.  After all, Walt was under arrest when Uncle Jack and his crew came upon him.  And now he's free.  In any case, so long as Todd keeps Jesse alive, he and his Uncle Jack are in breach of their agreement (as modified) with Walt.  After all, Walt was quite insistent that Uncle Jack keep up his end of the bargain.

There are at least two consequences of this:

1. Although Walt shook hands with Uncle Jack and indicated that they were now "good," perhaps they really are not so good after all (what a surprise!).

2. If Walt decides to pursue his breach of contract claim, he'd BETTER CALL SAUL!


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