ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Jeremy Telman
Oklahoma City University
School of Law

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Seventh Circuit Revives COVID-Cancellation Suit Against Loyola Chicago

COVIDIt has been a while since we had one of these cases to report on.  Lately, it seems, the cases that are still around have some legs, or else we got to report on settlements.  The story is not new.  Loyola shut down its campus in March 2020 in response to the global COVID (left, in its 2020 variant) pandemic.  Student sued, seeking a refund of a portion of their tuition and fees.  Last month, reversing the District Court in Gociman v. Loyola University of Chicago, a 2-1 panel of the Seventh Circuit found that plaintiffs had stated a claim under Illinois law for breach of contract, and it allowed them to amend their alternative claim for unjust enrichment.

These cases turn on specific facts.  Here, the most relevant facts seem to be that Loyola charged about twice as much in tuition and fees per credit for in-person education as it did for online education.  After it closed its campus, Loyola refunded some, but not all, fees, and issued a partial refund for room and board.  The Seventh Circuit noted that many courts in the Circuit had dismissed similar cases, but it also cited cases from other Circuits and one from the Seventh Circuit in which the claims had been allowed to proceed.

LoyolaUniversityChicagoSealMoving to the substance, the Court rejected Loyola's argument that plaintiffs were essentially alleging educational malpractice, which is not cognizable under Illinois law.  Taken as a whole, the Court found that plaintiffs had alleged an implied-in-fact contract.  In exchange for tuition, plaintiffs alleged that Loyola, through its course catalogue, promised to provide in-person instruction in certain courses.  The fact that the catalogue contained disclaimers was insufficient to  justify dismissal.  A trier of fact would have to determine whether the general disclaimer covered the pandemic.  In addition, the course catalogue may have given rise to a reasonable inference of a promise to provide in-person education. 

The Court also found that plaintiffs had sufficiently alleged breach of contract with respect to student development fees and technology fees.  The plaintiffs' unjust enrichment claim was dismissed due to a pleading error.  However, now that the breach of contract claim has been reinstated, plaintiffs may address that error in an amended pleading.

Judge St. Eve dissented from the reinstatement of plaintiffs' breach of contract claims.  Her analysis hinged on a distinction in Illinois law between two types of implied contracts in the educational context.  "Specific promise" implied contracts require that the student "identify the specific source of the purported implied contract and the precise promise the institution made."  "Fundamental promise" implied contracts are "vanishingly rare," having been recognized only the context of matriculation and graduation.  Judge St. Eve faults the majority for conflating the two categories, and she finds that plaintiffs have not adequately alleged either.  Although Loyola's catalogue is filled with references to specific classroom or laboratory spaces, such language reflects only the school's "prediction or hope."   Such language is unenforceable under Illinois law.  

Judge St. Eve provides a compelling argument under Illinois law.  The majority dismisses her distinction between specific and fundamental promises in a footnote, suggesting that the distinction was not intended to be a doctrinal instrument for sorting cases.  This would be an interesting subject for a student note, and I have no idea whether the majority or dissenting opinions get Illinois law right.   I can only note that, Judge St. Eve treats both categories of promises as implied promises, but her description of "specific promise" implied contracts strongly suggests that such promises must be express.  Judge St. Eve might well be right about what Illinois law says, but if it says that implied promises that universities make to students must be express in order to be enforceable, the law of Illinois on this subject is an . . .

Ass

August 11, 2022 in Recent Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Help Wanted: Position(s) at Oklahoma City University School of Law

JOB POSTING FOR DOCTRINAL FACULTY POSITION

OKLAHOMA CITY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW invites applications for one or more tenured or tenure-track faculty positions to begin with the 2023-24 academic year.  We welcome applications from candidates with a teaching interest in Business Organizations, Contracts and Commercial Law, Civil Procedure, and Environmental Law.  We have additional needs in secondary teaching fields, including Indian law, energy law, healthcare law, homeland security and national security.  We welcome candidates whose approaches in research will add to the scope and depth of our faculty scholarship.

OCU Law School
Candidates should have an excellent academic background, demonstrated potential to be a productive scholar, a strong commitment to the practice of inclusion, and a strong commitment to becoming an engaged classroom teacher.  Candidates must have either a J.D. degree from an ABA-accredited law school or a foreign law degree plus a U.S. LL.M. or J.S.D. 

Oklahoma City University School of Law is located in downtown Oklahoma City and is deeply engaged with the legal, business, and governmental communities.  Oklahoma City has been named “American’s Most Livable Community” and is consistently ranked among the top cities for entrepreneurs and small businesses, and among the best-run large cities.  

Oklahoma City University is an equal opportunity employer and affirms the values and goals of diversity.  We encourage applications from candidates of all backgrounds, particularly members of groups underrepresented in the teaching or practice of law.  For the university’s complete nondiscrimination policy, please see: https://www.okcu.edu/admin/hr/policies/general/nondiscrimination-policy-equity-resolution-process/nondiscrimination-policy/

To apply, please submit a CV and job-talk paper to https://jobs.silkroad.com/OKCU/FacultyCareers/jobs/1319  A cover letter that describes the candidate’s commitment to the practice of inclusion and includes examples would be helpful.  Interested persons are encouraged to direct inquiries to the Chair of the Faculty Appointments Committee, Professor Jeremy Telman, datelman@okcu.edu.  Review of applications will begin August 8, 2022, and continue until the position is filled.

August 10, 2022 in Help Wanted | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Tuesday Top Ten - Contracts & Commercial Law Downloads for August 9, 2022

After a last-minute August frolic and detour, the Tuesday Top Ten is back to ring in the new fall semester. The new 1Ls have no idea that the greatest course of all time lies ahead for them, but Contracts profs everywhere are preparing for the journey. Meanwhile, let's check the scholarship stats from our friends at SSRN.

Top-10 Cube Letters

Top Downloads For:

Contracts & Commercial Law eJournal

Recent Top Papers (60 days)

As of: 09 Jun 2022 - 08 Aug 2022
Rank Paper Downloads
1.

How Privilege Undermines Cybersecurity

University of Minnesota Law School, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University and University of Edinburgh
334
2.

COVID-19 and Business Income Insurance: The History of 'Physical Loss' and what Insurers Intended it to Mean

affiliation not provided to SSRN, Reed Smith LLP and Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP
208
3.

Transcending the Public Law-Private Law Divide

University of Melbourne Law School
135
4.

Private Law Legalism

USC Gould School of Law
123
5.

Bridging the Liability Gaps: Why AI Challenges the Existing Rules on Liability and How to Design Human-empowering Solutions

Amsterdam Law & Technology Institute
98
6.

Never Let Me Go: Private Law and the Conservative Impulse

University College London - Faculty of Laws
92
7.

Based On a True Story: Life Story Rights, Modularity and Ownership of the Self

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law and University of Houston Law Center
75
8.

The Misrepresentation Act 1967: Its Historical Origins and Socio-Political Context

University College London - Faculty of Laws
60
9.

Giants of Contract Law - Some Personal Reflections

Independent
57
10.

Nominal Damages as Vindication

Notre Dame Law School
52

 

Top Downloads For:

Law & Society: Private Law - Contracts eJournal

Recent Top Papers (60 days)

As of: 09 Jun 2022 - 08 Aug 2022
Rank Paper Downloads
1.

Based On a True Story: Life Story Rights, Modularity and Ownership of the Self

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law and University of Houston Law Center
75
2.

The Misrepresentation Act 1967: Its Historical Origins and Socio-Political Context

University College London - Faculty of Laws
60
3.

Giants of Contract Law - Some Personal Reflections

Independent
57
4.

Sexual Agreements

University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law and Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law
52
5.

The Role of Democracy in Private Law

University of Auckland Faculty of Law
52
6.

Nominal Damages as Vindication

Notre Dame Law School
52
7.

Unjust Enrichment in Australia 2020-2021

University of Queensland - TC Beirne School of Law, TC Beirne School of Law and The University of Queensland - T.C. Beirne School of Law
31
8.

In Defense of Separability: Prima Paint, Buckeye, & Rent-A-Center

Western Carolina University
27
9.

Public Policy Norms and Choice-of-Law Methodology Adjustments in International Arbitration

Western Carolina University
23
10.

The Two Faces of Severability: A Study in International Contract

HEC Paris and affiliation not provided to SSRN
20

 

August 9, 2022 in Recent Scholarship | Permalink

Help Wanted: LSU's Paul M. Hebert Law Center

LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY, PAUL M. HEBERT LAW CENTER seeks to hire tenure-track or tenured faculty in a variety of areas, including, but not limited to, faculty who have expertise in business law, civil & comparative law, civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law and procedure, evidence, family law, professional responsibility, and property. Applicants should have a J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school (foreign equivalencies will also be considered), superior academic credentials, and a demonstrable commitment to the production of quality scholarship, as well as a commitment to outstanding teaching. 

Screen Shot 2022-08-05 at 6.31.19 AMLouisiana State University is an R1 land, sea, and space-grant university with a footprint across the state of Louisiana. It is one of only eight universities in the nation with a law school, dental school, medical school, veterinary school, and an elite MBA program. The LSU Law Center, the flagship state law school of Louisiana, is part of LSU A&M’s campus, located in the state capital, Baton Rouge. See more about LSU, including links to the area, at https://lsu.edu/visit/index.php.

LSU is committed to providing equal opportunity for all qualified persons in admission to, participation in, or employment in the programs and activities which the University operates without regard to race, creed, color, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, religion, sex, national origin, age, mental or physical disability, or veteran’s status. LSU is committed to diversity and is an equal opportunity/ equal access employer. LSU believes diversity, equity, and inclusion enrich the educational experience of our students, faculty, and staff, and are necessary to prepare all people to thrive personally and professionally in a global society. To learn more about how LSU is committed to diversity and inclusivity, please see LSU’s Diversity Statement and Roadmap.

Law-Center-Old-Building-Exterior-1024x683
Please note that applicants must apply through the LSU Career Opportunities website. Only those persons who apply online will be considered for employment. Please apply using the following link: (https://lsu.wd1.myworkdayjobs.com/LSU/job/0400-Hebert-Law-Center/Assistant-Professor-of-Law-Associate-Professor-of-Law-Professor-of-Law_R00069560). Applications should include a letter of interest, resume including a list of three references, research agenda, and, if available, teaching evaluations.  

Questions may be directed by email to Ms. Pamela Hancock, the LSU Law Center’s Coordinator of Administration, who assists the Faculty Appointments Committee (phancock@lsu.edu). 

August 9, 2022 in Help Wanted | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 8, 2022

KCON XVI: It's On!!

We are so pleased to share that the 16th International Conference on Contracts -- a/k/a KCON XVI -- will be held at Texas A&M University School of Law in Fort Worth on Friday and Saturday, March 17-18, 2023.  A Call for Papers will be forthcoming, but the organizers want to give you a chance to start planning.

Screen Shot 2022-08-08 at 12.35.18 PMHistorically, the conference is highly inclusive.  In particular, we have always especially encouraged junior scholars to participate by presenting papers and works-in-progress, by organizing panels on topics relating to their research interests, and by volunteering to help organize and promote the event.  While most of the current organizers have aged some, nearly all of us got involved as relatively junior faculty members looking to expand our scholarly networks and showcase our work, and it’s part of our mission to keep that tradition alive.  If you have an idea for a panel but want help lining up panelists or commentators, we can help.

The conference is intentionally broad.  Proposals relating to any aspect of domestic or international contract or commercial law are welcome, including (but not limited to) doctrine, theory, legislation, history, pedagogy, practice, consumer issues, employment, and social issues.  Proposals that cross traditional contract law boundaries are particularly encouraged. 

If you have questions, feel free to contact any of the volunteer organizers:

Wayne Barnes wbarnes@law.tamu.edu
Mark Burge markburge@law.tamu.edu
Miriam Cherry mcherry3@slu.edu
Dan O’Gorman DOGorman@barry.edu
Jamie Fox fox@law.stetson.edu
Dani Hart dhart@swlaw.edu
Hila Keren hkeren@swlaw.edu
Michael Malloy mmalloy@pacific.edu
Colin Marks cmarks@stmarytx.edu
Jennifer Martin jmartin@STU.EDU
Val Ricks vricks@stcl.edu
Keith Rowley keith.rowley@unlv.edu
Frank Snyder fsnyder@law.tamu.edu
Ben Templin btemplin@tjsl.edu
Dov Waisman dwaisman@swlaw.edu

So mark the date and plan to join us for Bluebonnet season in Fort Worth in the spring.

August 8, 2022 in Conferences, Contract Profs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Help Wanted: Three(!) Positions at Stetson Law

POSITION: TENURE-TRACK PROFESSOR OF LAW

Screen Shot 2022-08-05 at 6.17.29 AM
STETSON UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF LAW
seeks to fill at least three entry-level tenure-track positions.  While our needs are flexible, we are particularly focused on Contracts, Torts, and Legal Research and Writing, as well as the areas of the Uniform Commercial Code, Professional Responsibility, Intellectual Property (emphasis on Patent Law), and Health Law. We may also have a need for Spring 2023 visitors in Legal Research and Writing and Torts.Other doctrinal areas may be considered depending on our developing institutional needs.

Located in Florida’s Tampa Bay area, the nation’s nineteenth largest metro area, Stetson was established in 1900 and is Florida’s oldest law school. Our main campus is in Gulfport, just outside St. Petersburg. We also have a part-time program with classes on both the main campus and our satellite campus in downtown Tampa. Stetson has earned a national reputation for its advocacy program, which is ranked #3 in U.S. News and World Report, and its elder law and higher education programs, with Centers for Excellence in Advocacy, Elder Law, and Higher Education Law and Policy. Stetson also has achieved a national reputation in legal writing, with its legal writing program also ranked #3 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. Stetson is the home for the Institute for the Advancement of Legal Communication, the Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy, and the Veterans Law Institute.

TampaFranklinStreetNorth
Stetson nurtures a vibrant intellectual community, situated on a beautiful campus. We encourage potential applicants to visit our website at https://www.stetson.edu/portal/law/ to learn more about our school, our community, and our programs. The law school is a part of Stetson University, which is located in DeLand, Florida, approximately three hours from the law school. The University features include a College of Arts and Sciences, a School of Music, and a School of Business Administration, the latter of which supports the law school’s JD/MBA program.

Stetson encourages applications from women, persons of color, LGBTQ+ candidates, and others who will contribute to our stimulating and diverse cultural and intellectual environment. Applicants must have a strong academic record and be committed to outstanding teaching and scholarship. Stetson’s Equal Employment Opportunity policy is available at https://www.stetson.edu/administration/human-resources/media/hotline/eeo-non-discrimination.pdf.

SALARY: Salary is competitive

STARTING DATE: August 2023

APPLICATION:

Applicants should send a cover letter indicating teaching and scholarly interests, a current curriculum vitae, and contact information for at least three professional references to Professors Jason Palmer and Rebecca Morgan at facultyappointments@law.stetson.edu or by standard mail to Professors Palmer and Morgan at Stetson University College of Law, 1401 61st Street South, Gulfport, FL 33707. The Faculty Appointments Committee will continue to review applications until positions are filled.

August 8, 2022 in Help Wanted | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Tuesday Top Ten - Contracts & Commercial Law Downloads for July 26, 2022

Top-ten-books

Welcome to this week's ContractsProf Blog Tuesday Top Ten! It's time for our (mostly) weekly list of the hottest summer contract and commercial law downloads as of July 26, 2022, based on data from our friends at SSRN. Without further ado, let's roll the tape:

Top Downloads For:

Contracts & Commercial Law eJournal

Recent Top Papers (60 days)

As of: 27 May 2022 - 26 Jul 2022
Rank Paper Downloads
1.

COVID-19 and Business Income Insurance: The History of 'Physical Loss' and what Insurers Intended it to Mean

affiliation not provided to SSRN, Reed Smith LLP and Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP
197
2.

What Do Good Lawyers Know that the Rest of Us Don't? Introducing First-Year Law Students to 'Legal Realism'

Southern Methodist University - Dedman School of Law
161
3.

Transcending the Public Law-Private Law Divide

University of Melbourne Law School
129
4.

Bridging the Liability Gaps: Why AI Challenges the Existing Rules on Liability and How to Design Human-empowering Solutions

Amsterdam Law & Technology Institute
87
5.

Never Let Me Go: Private Law and the Conservative Impulse

University College London - Faculty of Laws
82
6.

Contracting for Debt: The Relationship Between Debt Capitalism, Higher Education, and the Black-white Wealth Gap

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School
81
7.

The Misrepresentation Act 1967: Its Historical Origins and Socio-Political Context

University College London - Faculty of Laws
57
8.

Conflict, Consistency and the Role of Conventional Morality in Judicial Decision-Making

Fordham University School of Law
56
9.

Giants of Contract Law - Some Personal Reflections

Independent
45
10.

Humanizing Transactional Documents: Why and How Transactional Drafters Should Use Narrative Techniques

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law and Mercer Law School
43

 

Top Downloads For:

Law & Society: Private Law - Contracts eJournal

Recent Top Papers (60 days)

As of: 27 May 2022 - 26 Jul 2022
Rank Paper Downloads
1.

What Do Good Lawyers Know that the Rest of Us Don't? Introducing First-Year Law Students to 'Legal Realism'

Southern Methodist University - Dedman School of Law
161
2.

The Misrepresentation Act 1967: Its Historical Origins and Socio-Political Context

University College London - Faculty of Laws
57
3.

Conflict, Consistency and the Role of Conventional Morality in Judicial Decision-Making

Fordham University School of Law
56
4.

The Role of Democracy in Private Law

University of Auckland Faculty of Law
52
5.

Giants of Contract Law - Some Personal Reflections

Independent
45
6.

Humanizing Transactional Documents: Why and How Transactional Drafters Should Use Narrative Techniques

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law and Mercer Law School
43
7.

Nominal Damages as Vindication

Notre Dame Law School
43
8.

Post Section 90: Promissory Estoppel in the Courts that Use It Most

South Texas College of Law Houston
33
9.

Using Private Law as a Vehicle for Social Change: A Feminist Approach

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law
30
10.

Lowering the Stakes of the Employment Contract

Fordham University School of Law
25

July 26, 2022 in Recent Scholarship | Permalink

Friday, July 22, 2022

Away

I will be traveling for the next two weeks, so don't expect much activity here.  Time for a long-overdue and COVID-delayed trip to visit my mother and my brother, Muki (both pictured below).  If you don't have a brother named Muki, you should consider getting one.

Screen Shot 2022-07-21 at 1.39.15 PM

July 22, 2022 in About this Blog | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Teaching Critical Race Theory Without Mentioning Critical Race Theory

Charles_CallerosInspired by Charles Calleros' post from a few years ago, I teach Barfield v. Commerce Bank, N.A., 484 F.3d 1276 (2007). Inspired by Charles's other post from that guest stint, I also teach Gregory v. Dillard's.  Both of these cases are about Black people denied the ability to enter into contractual relations or commercial transactions.  In one of the cases, a federal statute, 42 U.S.C § 1981, comes to the rescue.  In the other, it doesn't.  It's a nice pairing.

I introduce these cases early in the course, right after we cover freedom of contact, for three reasons.  First, I want them to know that the common law of contracts is not the final word on legal obligations relating to contracts.  Second, the difference in approach in the two cases illustrates the difference between judges who follow precedent and think that their power is limited to the application of a remedial statute as written and judges who think more broadly about remedial purposes and may be willing to go beyond the statutory text.*  Third, and most importantly for the purposes of this post, I want them to help them to see right at the beginning of their legal careers that if you formulate seemingly neutral laws of general applicability but apply those laws in a racist society, the law can become a tool of structural racism.

Baude Khiara BridgesI have had occasion on this blog before to highlight Will Baude's excellent podcast with  Dan Epps, Divided Argument (most recently here).  Today, I want to highlight Will's (that's Will, at right) other podcast, Dissenting Opinions, the second season of which is entirely devoted to a conversation with Khiara Bridges (left) about critical race theory.  I recommend the entire series to anyone who wants to really understand the difference between critical race theory and the phantasm that goes by the same name and has become the subject of incoherent legislation across the country.  Professor Bridges and Will discuss structural racism in Episode 2.  

I recently came across a terrific illustration of structural racism on another beloved podcast, This American Life, Episode 773, The Longest Distance Between Two Points.  Act I of that episode is about a part of the Mississippi constitution that disenfranchises certain categories of felons.  The provision has a racist background, dating from 1890, when Whites in Mississippi were concerned that the state might become majority Black and that the Whites would lose control of the legislature.  They wrote a number of measures into the 1890 constitution designed to disenfranchise Blacks, including the felony law.  To this day, according to This American Life, 60% of those disenfranchised under this constitutional provision are Black, even thought Blacks account for only 39% of the population.  

FillinganeThe episode follows the odyssey of one man, Gerald Laird, convicted of robbery in 2002, as he tries to get a private bill through the Mississippi legislature so that he can vote again.  The process is complex and opaque.  You need to be really determined to make it through and even then, the legislature passes only a handful of private bills each year.  Gerald's private bill passed the House committee and the full House without any opposition.  It was never presented in the Senate committee, because the chair of that committee, Joey Fillingane (right), exercised his discretion and never put Gerald's bill on the agenda.  It died.  

Why did it die?  Mr. Fillingane explained that Gerald's crime was considered a violent offense, and when the lieutenant governor appointed Mr. Fillingane to the committee, he told Mr. Fillingane that there was a "general rule" that the committee does not consider private bills to return to franchise to violent felons.  Gerald's crime did not involve violence, and Fillingane would have considered that fact, but it doesn't seem like he really looked at the application once he determined that it involved a violence offense.

The following exchange between This American Life's Johny Kauffman and Mr. Fillingane illustrates how structural racism works.  

Johnny Kauffman

The historians that I've talked to about this to try to learn more about it said that it was this 1890 constitutional convention that met, and that the goal of that convention was to keep Black people from voting, and that these criminal disenfranchisement, these laws, were a part of that plan.

Joey Fillingane

I don't know if that's the case or not. I wasn't there. I've not studied the history of the 1890 constitution. And certainly, Mississippi has a very checkered past when it comes to race relations. We treated African-Americans very poorly in some parts of our history. And I'm certainly not going to sit here and defend that or even try to. I wouldn't want to. But if you're asking me, is the suffrage right being treated differently based on your race in 2022 as it relates to suffrage bills that we consider in the legislature, absolutely not.

I don't even know the race of the person. I'm sure I could probably try to find out by asking Department of Corrections to print me a social history, the person's age, and racial background, and all of that if I wanted to. I've never done that. I don't intend to start. But I mean, it's not obvious to me, just by looking at a bill, what racial background someone is a part of.

Mr. Kauffman raises a point about structural racism.  Mr. Fillingane responds by defending himself against what he perceives as an accusation that he is racist.  They are essentially talking past each other.  Mr. Kauffman is not saying that Mr. Fillingane had a racist motive in killing Gerald's private bill.  Because of structural racism, no such motive is necessary.  When you apply a racist 1890 provision of the Mississippi constitution in a neutralm objective manner, you are doing the work of structural racism regardless of your personal views on race.

And now the ball should be in Mr Fillingane's court.  He professes ignorance in the episode, but he is ignorant no longer.  Or his ignorance is a choice.

For newcomers to the blog interested in this topic, we have had a number of contributions on critical theory, critical race theory, and feminism.  

*Charles and I may differ on Commerce Bank.  I think that case is about a simultaneous exchange and thus not about a contract.  Nonetheless, I think the court's conclusion that Congress intended 42 U.S.C. § 1981 to cover such transactions is plausible.  With my students, I make much of the interpretive stretch involved in order to make the contrast between Commerce Bank and Gregory as clear as possible.

July 21, 2022 in Teaching, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Tuesday Top Ten - Contracts & Commercial Law Downloads for July 19, 2022

Top-ten-neon-1210x423

Top Downloads For:

Contracts & Commercial Law eJournal

Recent Top Papers (60 days)

As of: 20 May 2022 - 19 Jul 2022
Rank Paper Downloads
1.

Not Your Keys, Not Your Coins: Unpriced Credit Risk in Cryptocurrency

Georgetown University Law Center
992
2.

The Limits of Regulation by Insurance

University of Virginia School of Law and University of Minnesota Law School
211
3.

COVID-19 and Business Income Insurance: The History of 'Physical Loss' and what Insurers Intended it to Mean

affiliation not provided to SSRN, Reed Smith LLP and Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP
190
4.

What Do Good Lawyers Know that the Rest of Us Don't? Introducing First-Year Law Students to 'Legal Realism'

Southern Methodist University - Dedman School of Law
151
5.

Transcending the Public Law-Private Law Divide

University of Melbourne Law School
122
6.

Cognition, Automation and the Future of Contract Law

University of Queensland
80
7.

Contracting for Debt: The Relationship Between Debt Capitalism, Higher Education, and the Black-white Wealth Gap

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School
79
8.

Bridging the liability gaps: why AI challenges the existing rules on liability and how to design human-empowering solutions

Amsterdam Law & Technology Institute
72
9.

Never Let Me Go: Private Law and the Conservative Impulse

University College London - Faculty of Laws
71
10.

Conflict, Consistency and the Role of Conventional Morality in Judicial Decision-Making

Fordham University School of Law
54

 

Top Downloads For:

Law & Society: Private Law - Contracts eJournal

Recent Top Papers (60 days)

As of: 20 May 2022 - 19 Jul 2022
Rank Paper Downloads
1.

What Do Good Lawyers Know that the Rest of Us Don't? Introducing First-Year Law Students to 'Legal Realism'

Southern Methodist University - Dedman School of Law
151
2.

Cognition, Automation and the Future of Contract Law

University of Queensland
80
3.

Conflict, Consistency and the Role of Conventional Morality in Judicial Decision-Making

Fordham University School of Law
54
4.

The Role of Democracy in Private Law

University of Auckland Faculty of Law
50
5.

The Potential Legal Value of Relational Contracts in a Time of Crisis or Uncertainty

University of Tennessee College of Law
48
6.

Giants of Contract Law - Some Personal Reflections

Independent
44
7.

Humanizing Transactional Documents: Why and How Transactional Drafters Should Use Narrative Techniques

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law and Mercer Law School
42
8.

The Misrepresentation Act 1967: Its Historical Origins and Socio-Political Context

University College London - Faculty of Laws
41
9.

Post Section 90: Promissory Estoppel in the Courts that Use It Most

South Texas College of Law Houston
33
10.

Using Private Law as a Vehicle for Social Change: A Feminist Approach

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law
28

July 19, 2022 in Recent Scholarship | Permalink

Help Wanted: Lewis & Clark Law School

Lewis_and_clark_college_sealLewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon invites applications from candidates for several positions to begin in the 2023-24 academic year. These positions will remain open until filled. We primarily seek candidates to teach property, torts, contracts, commercial law, copyright and other IP classes, employment law and related classes, health law, and lawyering/legal writing. Candidates with interests in constitutional law, criminal law, and wills & trusts may also receive consideration.

We will begin screening interviews in September, and campus callbacks will take place shortly thereafter. Applicants who receive an offer will have two weeks to consider the offer. In some cases, an applicant may need to make a decision before other law schools have completed callbacks. Applicants should have serious interest in Lewis & Clark Law School and living in the Pacific Northwest.

Interested persons should send a c.v., references, a writing sample, and an indication of specific teaching interests to Kerry Rowand, Executive Assistant to the Dean, at lawfacultyhire@lclark.edu. More information about the law school can be found at https://law.lclark.edu/

Lewis & Clark College is an Equal Employment Opportunity employer. We value diversity at all levels. All individuals, regardless of personal characteristics, are encouraged to apply. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment with regard to sex, race, religion or religious creed, color, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, physical or mental disability, marital status, age, sexual orientation, veteran status, or any other basis protected by federal, state, local law, ordinance, or regulation. 

July 19, 2022 in Help Wanted | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 18, 2022

The New Yorker Reports on Pre-Nups

Byzantine ringA recent article in The New Yorker  reports that pre-nups are way up.  According to the poll, a whopping 40% of married people between the ages of 18 and 34 have pre-nups.  For people above 55, the figure is 5%.  I am in the latter category, but my wife and I have a pre-nup.  Most of its terms relate to her obligation to sit on the loveseat with me and watch things on television.  Unfortunately, it was devised before I went to law school, and so I did not know that pre-nups have to be in writing.  And they can't be fictional.  Our prenup develops new provisions each time there is some show I want my wife to watch with me.  "If you consult our prenup, I'll say, you'll see that you are contractually obligated to sit here."  My wife considers it unenforceable.  But she's not an attorney.

RTThere is a socio-economic reason why pre-nups are all the rage: debt.  The stereotypical pre-nup is about some rich person trying to protect their pre-marital wealth.  Pre-nups today are often about partners trying to protect themselves from their partner's debt.  That debt might be student loans or it might be impending medical costs.  The New Yorker article starts with the story of a couple that had been together for a while when the man was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  He then asked his partner to marry him.  She agreed, but conditioned the marriage on a pre-nup, as she did not want to be saddled with responsibility for medical costs that clearly would exceed his ability to pay.

The article then provides a nice history of pre-nups in the Americas, building on scholarship by Marcia Zug.  Their enforceability was not a certainty until the 1970s or 80s, depending on the jurisdiction.  The law of pre-nups is, to this day, littered with regulations intended to prevent the worst possible outcomes.  The result is to make pre-nups harder to enforce and more expensive.  For example, some states require that the pre-nups be entered into a certain period before the wedding, a response to occasions when men presented their betrotheds with "revised pre-nups" on the way to the rehearsal dinner.  Some states also require that the parties each have their own attorneys.  This is wise if the parties have asymmetrical means, but that is not always the case.  LSU's Elizabeth Carter has argued that pre-nups should be standard for all married couples.  There are lots of reasons why Professor Carter thinks people getting married need pre-nups, but pre-exiting debt seems to be one important one.  In addition, a pre-nup also enables a party to tailor the division of marital property so as to avoid being stuck with the state legislature's one-size-fits-all default rules that might not actually fit.  

Kim KardashianBut then at the end of the article, it turns out that pre-nups are still pretty expensive and mostly for the financially comfortable.  Kim Kardashian reportedly had pre-nups in connection with two of her marriages.  The cheapest of pre-nups cost thousands of dollars, and they are pricier if you don't know what you are doing.  That means the people who really need pre-nups -- the people likely to be saddled with a departed spouse's unpaid debts -- can't afford them.  The article mentions two TikTokers who share useful information about pre-nups on that platform, Kelly Chang Rickert and @yourrichbff.  HelloPrenup, a start-up featured on Shark Tank, charges roughly $600 per couple.  Even if you don't think you need a pre-nup, you might want to keep up with the Kardashians.

July 18, 2022 in Contract Profs, Current Affairs, In the News, Recent Scholarship, True Contracts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 15, 2022

Guest Post 3: John Patrick Hunt on Alternatives to Specific Performance in Twitter v. Musk

John Patrick Hunt on Elon Musk and Twitter
Part III: Alternatives to the
Specific Performance of Merger Agreements

As explored in the previous posts (1 & 2) in this series, Delaware law seems to provide for specific performance of merger agreements when the parties agree to it, which they often do.  But, moving to the second major point of these posts, what if the court nevertheless decides not to order specific performance here?  For example, commenters have suggested Musk might simply defy such an order, and that fear of that outcome might induce the court not to order specific performance in the first place.  Setting aside any doubts about the plausibility of this scenario, we consider what would happen if the court actually did decline to order specific performance on the stated ground that damages are adequate or for other equitable reasons.

John Patrick HuntThe conventional reading of the Musk-Twitter contract seems to be that any monetary damages would be capped at $1 billion, the amount of what the agreement calls the “Parent Termination Fee.”  And the does say that in plain terms.  For a “knowing and intentional” breach of the agreement, Twitter is “entitled to seek monetary damages, recovery, or award” from Musk or the acquiring companies “in an amount not to exceed the amount of the Parent Termination Fee, in the aggregate.”  Agrmt. 8.3(c)(ii).  In cases other than knowing and intentional breach, Twitter’s “right to receive payment from Parent of the Parent Termination Fee … shall constitute the sole and exclusive monetary remedy” of Twitter.  Id.  The same provision goes on to state that “in no event shall [Musk or the acquisition companies] be subject to an aggregate amount for monetary damages … in excess of an aggregate amount equal to the Parent Termination Fee.”  Id.  The specific-performance provision itself states, “in no event shall [Twitter] be permitted or entitled to receive aggregate monetary damages in excess of the Parent Termination Fee.”  Agrmt. 9.9(b).

Twitter-logo.svgBut these assertions have to be read against the general background assumption of the agreement that specific performance would be available.  This assumption also appears repeatedly in the agreement, and it is stated emphatically: “[T]he parties hereto acknowledge and agree that the parties hereto shall be entitled to an injunction, specific performance, and other equitable relief … to enforce specifically the terms and provisions hereof, in addition to any other remedy to which they are entitled at law or in equity.”  Agrmt. 9.9(a).  Moreover, “Notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary, including the availability of the Parent Termination Fee or other monetary damages, remedy, or award, it is hereby acknowledged and agreed that [Twitter] shall be entitled to specific performance or other equitable remedy to enforce” the agreement against Musk and the acquisition companies, provided the conditions discussed above are met.  Agrmt. 9.9(b).  The word “acknowledge” seems significant here, as it communicates that each party not only agrees to be subject to specific performance, but also recognizes that each party contemplates that the remedy will in fact be granted -- that is, granted despite equitable considerations.

The contract documents do not address the case where a court denies specific performance for equitable reasons.  A provision that Twitter can pursue specific performance and monetary relief simultaneously but cannot receive both, Agrmt.  9.9(b)(iii)(A), just appears to address the timing of election of remedies. 

Assuming that the agreement does not cover the case where specific performance is unavailable, the “in no event” should also be interpreted not to cover that case, leaving a gap or omitted case in the contract.  One possibility is that the gap is large enough to constitute a failure of assent, as in that 1L chestnut, the Peerless case, Raffles v. Wichelhaus, 159 Eng. Rep. 375 (1864) (or in the chicken case, Frigaliment Importing Co. v. B.N.S. Int’l Sales Corp., 190 F. Supp. 116 (S.D.N.Y. 1960), which has been interpreted as a modern analogue).  Or perhaps the denial of specific performance on extrinsic grounds would be the failure of a basic assumption that the court would award the remedy, so that mistake doctrines would come into play.  See Fortis Advisors LLC v. Johnson & Johnson, 2021 WL 5893997, at *17 (Del. Ch. Dec. 13, 2021).  These outcomes threaten the enforceability of the merger agreement and thus would be bad news for Twitter.

More likely, however, the court would try to fill the gap by interpretation.  Delaware courts would receive extrinsic evidence, such as evidence of the parties’ negotiations, given the contract’s ambiguity, see, e.g., United Rentals, 937 A.2d at 834-35.  We of course don’t know what that extrinsic evidence might show, but unless it leads to a clear outcome, it seems likely that the default contract remedy of expectation damages would come back into play.  See AB Stable VIII LLC v. Maps Hotels and Resorts One LLC, 2020 WL 7024929, at *100 (Del. Ch. Nov. 30, 2020) (“The common law has established a series of default rules governing the ability of a party to recover damages for a breach of contract.  They form a backdrop to the negotiated provisions.”); Concord Real Estate CDO 2006-1, Ltd. v. Bank of America N.A., 996 A.2d 324, 332 (Del. Ch. 2010) (common law “provides a backdrop of standard default rules that supplement negotiated agreements and fill gaps when a contract is incomplete, whether by inadvertence of design.  Parties can contract around virtually all common law rules.  In a lengthy and sophisticated agreement … the terms of the agreement and not the common law will control many issues.  But unless contradicted or altered by the parties’ agreement, the common law rules form an implied part of every contract.”).

AfraTwitter’s expectation damages would be the amount needed to put the company in the financial position it would have been in if Musk had closed the transaction as agreed.  They could vastly exceed the $1 billion termination fee, which, as Dean Afra Afsharipour (right) has noted, is a relatively small proportion of the deal price by M&A standards.  This amount would certainly be litigated, but a reasonable candidate for an approximation would be the difference between the agreed acquisition price of its stock and the market price.  The deal price is $54.20 per share, and at this writing, Twitter is trading at $34.28 per share and reportedly has 764 million shares outstanding.  That works out to over $15 billion in expectation damages.

A counterargument could be that despite the contract language quoted above, the parties did not in fact assume that specific performance would be available.  Instead, perhaps Twitter recognized that denial was a possibility, signed up for an undercompensatory $1 billion remedy in that circumstance, and lost its gamble.  The strong Delaware precedents in favor of specific performance cut against this interpretation, but extrinsic evidence that the Twitter team recognized the possibility that specific performance would be denied despite the law could cut the other way.  And Musk’s side would be able to take discovery and try to prove that, given Delaware’s rules on extrinsic evidence.

For example, if Twitter’s representatives discussed the possibility that a court would deny specific performance to avoid a confrontation with Musk out of fear that he would refuse to comply, that could weigh in favor enforcing the damages limitation should apply.  But it raises a question:  Should a powerful party be allowed to benefit from willingness to defy the law in this way?

**

The author gratefully acknowledges receiving excellent research assistance from Michaela Gines and Benjamin Ylo of the King Hall Class of 2024.  Their work contributed significantly to these posts.

July 15, 2022 in Commentary, Contract Profs, Current Affairs, E-commerce, In the News, Recent Cases, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (5)

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Guest Post 2: John Patrick Hunt on Specific Performance in Delaware

John Patrick Hunt on Elon Musk and Twitter
Part II: Specific Performance of Merger Agreements

In yesterday’s post, I provided background on the availability of specific performance as a remedy in the context of acquisitions under Delaware law.  In this post, we look at Delaware law in more detail. 

John Patrick HuntCommenters have focused on In re IBP Shareholders Litigation, 789 A.2d 14, 82-84 (Del. Ch. 2001) (edted version available here) in which the court considered various equitable factors, including the adequacy of monetary remedies, before deciding to grant specific performance of a merger agreement to the seller.  But, importantly, the opinion in IBP does not suggest that the parties agreed to specific performance.  It would surprising if the parties had agreed to specific performance and the court simply decided not to mention it; the court did refer to the agreement’s choice-of-law provision in deciding the analogous question of what law to apply.  Id. at 52-54.  Thus, although IBP certainly stands for the proposition that the Court of Chancery is willing to order a buyer to go through with an M&A transaction, it may suggest more reluctance to do so than the court actually exhibits when the parties have agreed to specific performance.

            When the parties do agree to specific performance, the Court of Chancery seems to give great weight to their choice.  Indeed – again recognizing that the research for these posts has not been totally comprehensive – this author has found no merger or acquisition case in which the court denied on extrinsic grounds specific performance when it found that the parties’ agreement authorized the relief.

Court-of-ChanceryThe Court of Chancery recognized the importance of respecting the parties’ choice to opt into specific performance in the related context of exercise of shareholder preemptive rights.  Ordering specific performance per the parties’ agreement in Gildor v. Optical Solutions, Inc., 2006 WL 4782348 (Del. Ch. June 5, 2006), the court wrote, “If the Stockholder Agreement was silent as to the availability of specific performance, Gildor would bear the burden of showing that a legal remedy would be inadequate.  … But, given Delaware’s policy of favoring freedom of contract, there is no need to make that inquiry. … Delaware courts do not lightly trump the freedom to contract and, in the absence of some countervailing public policy interest, courts should respect the parties’ bargain.”  Id. at *11. 

            Moving to M&A cases, in Hexion Specialty Chemicals, Inc. v. Huntsman Corp., 965 A.2d 715 (Del. Ch. 2008), the court seems to have treated the parties’ agreement on specific performance as dispositive. It did not analyze the adequacy of damages or equitable factors that would favor or disfavor specific performance.  Instead, it simply read the contract’s specific-performance provision and granted specific performance according to the contract’s express terms.  Id. at 759-63.  Although the court did not order the buyer to close the transaction, that was because it interpreted the contract’s specific-performance provision as not authorizing an order to perform that particular term.  Id. at 759-61.

            In last year’s Snow Phipps Group v. KCAKE Acquisition Corp., 2021 WL 1714202 (Del. Ch. April 30, 2021), now-Chancellor McCormick did order the transaction to close, basing the decision simply on the fact that the parties had agreed to that remedy:  “The court has not hesitated to order specific performance in cases of this nature, particularly where sophisticated parties represented by sophisticated counsel stipulate that the specific performance would be an appropriate remedy in the event of breach.”  Id. at *51.  Again, the court did not address the adequacy of damages or other equitable factors. 

DE ChanceryInversely, the Court of Chancery has also treated the parties’ decision to exclude specific performance as dispositive.  When an agreement has been interpreted to bar specific performance, the court has denied the remedy.  See Realogy Holdings Corp. v. SIRVA Worldwide, 2020 WL 4559519, at *1 (Del. Ch. Aug. 7, 2020) (claim for specific performance dismissed because “under the [purchase agreement], the unambiguous contractual conditions on that remedy failed”); United Rentals, Inc. v. RAM Holdings, Inc., 937 A.2d 810, 845 (Del. Ch. 2007) (claim for specific performance denied where plaintiff “failed to meet its burden of demonstrating that the common understanding of the parties permitted specific performance of the Merger Agreement”).

To be sure, in two recent cases in which the merger parties agreed to specific performance, the court has discussed equitable factors, suggesting that the parties’ decision is not dispositive.  However, the court ordered the buyer to perform in both cases, and the opinions suggest that the agreement was the driving force.  In Level 4 Yoga, LLC v. CorePower Yoga, LLC, 2022 WL 601862 (Del. Ch. March 1, 2022), the court twice mentioned Snow Phipps’s holding that Delaware typically “does not hesitate” to enforce merger parties’ specific-performance agreements, and it discussed equity only cursorily.  It did not address adequacy of damages at all.  See id. at *30-31.

In Channel Medsystems, Inc. v. Boston Scientific Corp., 2019 WL 6896462 (Dec. 18, 2019), the court’s lead reason for finding that the balance of equities favored the target was that “the parties expressly agreed that a failure to perform under the Agreement would cause irreparable harm for which the remedy of specific performance would be available.”  Id. at *39.  The court observed that the provision “does not tie the court’s hands in fashioning appropriate equitable relief,” but noted that the parties’ contract “reflect[ed] the parties’ understanding that specific performance would be available in this circumstance, which would be entirely consistent with past Delaware cases granting specific performance for failure to perform under a merger agreement,” id. at *39. 

So, while there are strong reasons to believe that the Court of Chancery could order specific performance of Elon Musk’s agreement to acquire Twitter, that conclusion is not foreordained.  Tomorrow’s post explores what damages would be available if specific performance is denied.

The author gratefully acknowledges receiving excellent research assistance from Michaela Gines and Benjamin Ylo of the King Hall Class of 2024.  Their work contributed significantly to these posts

July 14, 2022 in Commentary, Contract Profs, Current Affairs, E-commerce, In the News, True Contracts, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Guest Post 1: John Patrick Hunt on Elon Musk and Twitter

John Patrick Hunt
Elon Musk and Twitter: Overview

John Patrick HuntIs Elon Musk is likely to be ordered to go through with his agreement to acquire Twitter if he unjustifiably fails to close the acquisition?  This series of three posts analyzes the question and considers what damages might be awarded Twitter if specific performance is denied.  The first post lays out the problem, the second addresses the issue of specific performance, and the third discusses damages in the absence of specific performance.

Although the Twitter merger agreement provides that Musk and his acquisition companies may be compelled to close the transaction, it’s been pointed out that the decision to grant such an order, one of “specific performance,” generally is a matter of judicial discretion rather than pure party choice.  As Contracts teachers know, American courts generally will not order specific performance as a remedy for breach of contract if an award of damages provides “adequate” relief.  See Rest. (2d) of Contracts § 359(1).  Even if damages are inadequate, courts may weigh a variety of factors, such as the public interest and fairness between the parties, in deciding whether to grant the equitable remedy of specific performance.  See Rest. (2d) of Contracts §§ 362-369.  We will call the adequacy of damages and the application of these factors “equitable grounds” for denying specific performance or “equitable issues.”

Twitter-logo.svgThe Restatement commentary specifically instructs that parties cannot simply opt into specific performance:  “Because the availability of equitable relief was historically viewed as a matter of jurisdiction, the parties cannot vary by agreement the requirement of inadequacy of damages, although a court may take appropriate notice of facts recited in their contract.”  Rest. (2d) of Contracts, § 359 cmt. a (1981).

These posts make two points.  First, as M&A scholars know, the Delaware Court of Chancery has ordered specific performance of corporate merger agreements as a matter of course and has not extensively analyzed equitable factors as the Restatement suggests.  Indeed, when merger parties address specific performance in their agreement, the court has treated the decision to grant specific performance or not primarily as a question of contract interpretation and has given little or no weight to equitable issues, including the adequacy of damages.  Although the research for these blog posts has not been totally comprehensive, the author has located no case in which the court interpreted the parties’ contract to authorize specific performance but declined to order the remedy for equitable reasons.

MuskSecond, even in the apparently unlikely event that the Court of Chancery were to decide to exercise its equitable discretion not to grant Twitter specific performance, this particular merger agreement is drafted so that Twitter would have a reasonable argument for full expectation damages, which could far exceed the contract’s much-discussed $1 billion cap on monetary relief.

A note on assumptions.  The agreement provides that specific performance is available only under particular conditions, as follows.  Twitter’s shareholders must have approved the deal and regulatory conditions must be satisfied.  Agrmt. 7.1.  Debt financing (either the negotiated financing or an alternative) must be available.  Agrmt. 9.9(b).  Twitter must have materially performed its pre-closing obligations and confirmed that it will close if Musk is ordered to do so.  Agrmt. 7.2(a), 9.9(b).  Twitter must not have suffered a material adverse effect, Agrmt. 7.2(c).  And its representations and warranties must be true (with some allowances for immaterial inaccuracies).  Agrmt. 7.2(b).

Of course, Musk claims that Twitter has materially breached its obligations, made false and misleading representations, and is likely to suffer a material adverse effect.  See Letter from Mike Ringler to Vijay Gadde, July 8, 2022.  Twitter (and other commenters) have cast doubt on Musk’s claims,  see, e.g., Matt Levine, Elon’s Out, Bloomberg, July 9, 2022, but these posts do not evaluate them.  Instead, it assumes that the conditions for specific performance set forth in the agreement are met and addresses whether the court is likely to deny specific performance for equitable reasons.    

The author gratefully acknowledges receiving excellent research assistance from Michaela Gines and Benjamin Ylo of the King Hall Class of 2024.  Their work contributed significantly to these posts.

July 13, 2022 in Commentary, Contract Profs, Current Affairs, E-commerce, In the News, Recent Cases, True Contracts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Introducing our Special Guest, John Patrick Hunt

John Patrick HuntThe rest of this week will be devoted to the Elon Musk/Twitter fight as explained by our guest John Patrick Hunt (right).

John Patrick Hunt’s area of scholarly interest is law and finance.  His recent work focuses on student-loan bankruptcy; previously, his scholarship has addressed municipal bankruptcy, credit rating agencies, and mortgage securitization, transfer, and modification. Before joining the UC Davis faculty in 2009, John was Research Director of the Law and Finance Program at the Berkeley Center for Law, Business and the Economy. He has also worked as a regulatory lawyer and litigator at two major law firms and as a credit derivatives research analyst. He holds a J.D. from Yale Law School and a Master’s in Financial Engineering from the U.C. Berkeley Haas School of Business, and served as a law clerk to the Honorable Stephen F. Williams of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

We look forward to his posts on the prospects that the Delaware Court of Chancery will order Musk to specifically perform.

July 13, 2022 in About this Blog, Contract Profs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Tuesday Top Ten - Contracts & Commercial Law Downloads for July 12, 2022

Top-10 wStars

Top Downloads For:

Contracts & Commercial Law eJournal

Recent Top Papers (60 days)

As of: 13 May 2022 - 12 Jul 2022
Rank Paper Downloads
1.

Not Your Keys, Not Your Coins: Unpriced Credit Risk in Cryptocurrency

Georgetown University Law Center
931
2.

The Limits of Regulation by Insurance

University of Virginia School of Law and University of Minnesota Law School
203
3.

COVID-19 and Business Income Insurance: The History of 'Physical Loss' and what Insurers Intended it to Mean

affiliation not provided to SSRN, Reed Smith LLP and Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP
183
4.

What Do Good Lawyers Know that the Rest of Us Don't? Introducing First-Year Law Students to 'Legal Realism'

Southern Methodist University - Dedman School of Law
137
5.

Transcending the Public Law-Private Law Divide

University of Melbourne Law School
115
6.

Cognition, Automation and the Future of Contract Law

University of Queensland
79
7.

Contracting for Debt: The Relationship Between Debt Capitalism, Higher Education, and the Black-white Wealth Gap

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School
79
8.

Non-Compliance with contract terms: a comparative view on (non)regulation and remedies

University of St. Gallen and Copenhagen Business School - CBS Law
78
9.

Never Let Me Go: Private Law and the Conservative Impulse

University College London - Faculty of Laws
66
10.

Conflict, Consistency and the Role of Conventional Morality in Judicial Decision-Making

Fordham University School of Law
52

 

Top Downloads For:

Law & Society: Private Law - Contracts eJournal

July 12, 2022 | Permalink

Monday, July 11, 2022

Second Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Roy Moore's Suit against Sacha Baron Cohen

We have covered this case before, but it is a useful reminder of the power of releases.

In 2018, Roy Moore, former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, former U.S. Senate candidate agreed to be interviewed by Sacha Baron Cohen.  As is his wont, Baron Cohen misrepresented the purposes of the interview.   He pretended to be an Israeli intelligence offer, and he lured Judge Moore into the interview by claiming that the purpose was to present the Judge with an award for his support of Israel.  During the interview, Baron Cohen produced an instrument that he claimed Israel had developed to detect underground tunnels.  Baron Cohen then claimed that it could also detect pedophiles, and, sure enough, it started beeping whenever help up close to Judge Moore's body.  Judge Moore's alleged stalking of women as young as 14 had been an issue in his election campaign.  

The interview did not go well, as you can see below, and the problems go well beyond Baron Cohen's mock unibrow:

In its opinion, the Second Circuit points out the Judge Moore signed a standard consent agreement, which provided in relevant part: 

[Judge Moore] waives, and agrees not to bring at any time in the future, any claims against the Producer, or against any of its assignees or licensees or anyone associated with the Program, which are related to the Program or its production, or this agreement, including, but not limited to, claims involving assertions of . . . (h) infliction of emotional distress (whether allegedly intentional or negligent), . . . (m) defamation (such as any allegedly false statements made in the Program), . . . [or] (p) fraud (such as any  alleged deception about the Program or this consent agreement).

Judge Moore crossed out other language in the Release, but the Second Circuit agreed with the District Court that he agreed to enough to bar his claims for defamation, infliction of emotional distress, and fraud.  

Judge Moore claimed that the entire agreement was the product of fraudulent inducement, but any such claim was barred under New York law because, in the Release, Judge Moore also  confirmed that he was not not "relying upon any promises or statements made by anyone about the nature of the Program or the identity, behavior, or qualifications of any other participants, cast members, or other persons involved in the program,” and that he was “signing this agreement with no expectations or understanding concerning the conduct, offensive or otherwise, of anyone involved in this Program.”  The Second Circuit also agreed with the District Court's rejection of Judge Moore's arguments that New York law does not enforce general releases.  This was not a general release.  It specifically released the defendants from the very claims Judge Moore sought to bring.  

Judge Moore's wife's claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress were barred under the First Amendment.  Judge Moore is a public figure and, given his candidacy for public office, the subject matter of the segment was clearly of public concern.  The court found that "no reasonable person" could have taken it seriously.  Thus, while the representation that the "pedophile detector" was a reliable device was clearly false, in context, nobody would have thought otherwise.  

We may have to revisit this doctrine in a world in which many people believe that "you can't trust the media."  In our current environment, Sacha Baron Cohen is at least as reliable a source as George Stephanopoulos.  I once was engaged in a political debate with a former student, and he pointed me to an article from the Babylon Bee.  When I informed him his source was satire, and he might was well be citing The Onion, he responded, "What difference does that make?"  At that point, I knew that I had lost.  And that all was lost.

July 11, 2022 in Celebrity Contracts, In the News, Recent Cases, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Weekend Frivolity Elon Musk Gets Legal Advice from Creed Bratton

As you all know, Elon Musk entered into an agreement to buy Twitter.  Shortly thereafter, Twitter's stock price dropped, making the price Musk agreed to pay a bit high.  As we covered here, he tried the poop emoji, then he learned that he had to allege a material breach in order to get out of the deal and avoid paying the $1 billion penalty fee.

Now, he has announced that he is "terminating" the deal.  We have a recreation of how this came about, with Michael Scott recreating Musk's role and Creed Bratton playing the role of Musk's legal advisors (and Oscar Martinez playing his smarter advisors):

 

July 9, 2022 in Current Affairs, E-commerce, In the News | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, July 8, 2022

Help Wanted: California Western

California Western School of Law (CWSL) is seeking applications from lateral candidates for two tenure or tenure-track positions to begin on or about August 1, 2023.  We are looking for candidates with strong academic backgrounds, a commitment to excellence in teaching, and demonstrated potential to be productive scholars.  We specifically are interested in an experienced instructor to teach Contracts and Civil Procedure beginning in Academic Year 2023-24, and particularly welcome applications from individuals who would contribute to the vibrancy and diversity of our faculty. 

San DiegoEstablished in 1924, CWSL is an ABA accredited and AALS member, non-profit law school, and has the distinction of being San Diego’s oldest law school. At CWSL we pride ourselves on the diversity of our student body.  This year, around 50% of our incoming students are from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds.  We are committed to having a faculty that reflects our student body and our community.  CWSL continues to rethink the status quo in legal education – balancing a rigorous practical education with cutting edge scholarship and community service.  As a result, our graduates have a reputation for being uniquely practice-ready.  

San Diego Flag
CWSL is located in downtown San Diego, literally overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  A city of breathtaking beauty, we have perfect weather, miles of beaches, and nearby mountains.  We are a family-friendly, diverse city with small city traffic and walkable neighborhoods.  

 Application materials should include a cover letter, C.V., research agenda, and a diversity statement that addresses how you will contribute to CWSL’s goal of creating a diverse faculty. Please direct application materials and questions to the chair of the Lateral Appointments Committee, Professor Erin Sheley, at the following email address:  esheley@cwsl.edu. We will begin considering applications on August 12 2022. 

July 8, 2022 in Help Wanted | Permalink | Comments (0)