Monday, December 8, 2008

A Dog Named Mike

At the risk of being accused of going off topic, I found rather interesting a decision of the Oregon Court of Appeals holding that a settlement agreement resolving the breakup of a domestic partnership was not invalidated by a subsequent dispute over visitation rights of a dog with the charming name of Mike.

The problem:

Following the parties' execution of the agreement, the trial court took the case off the active trial docket and placed it on inactive status.  In the meantime, plaintiff developed second thoughts about the agreement.  In particular, she became concerned about the provision that pertained to the dog, Mike.  Plaintiff fired the lawyer who had represented her up to that point and retained new counsel, who advised her that the dog visitation provision was unenforceable.  On September 25, 2006, plaintiff's new lawyer sent a letter to the court and to defendant, informing them that she was rescinding the August 30 settlement agreement and asking the court to place the matter back on active status.

The court held that, in light of a severability provision in the original agreement, the motion to undo the entire agreement was properly denied. The legal issue, i.e., whether it is appropriate to grant visitation rights to an item of personal property, was not resolved. (Mike Frisch)

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