ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

An issue spotter of a case

A recent case out of New York, Neumann v. Sotheby's, Inc., 652170/2018, has so many issues it reads like an exam question. (You can read the complaint here, and a more general write-up here.)

First. the court had to tackle the question of when a contract was formed and which of the many interactions between the parties was the governing contract. That involved the court reading emails closely to determine if there was ever an offer and acceptance. The court concluded there was not, because the parties always spoke in terms of "fine tuning" the agreement, contemplated a subsequent written document would happen, and did not intend to be bound until then. There was also a consideration issue, because basically in the emails the parties were just agreeing to discuss entering into an agreement. 

Subsequent written contracts between the parties on the subject contained merger clauses that in and of themselves would have superseded the emails, even if the emails had constituted binding contracts. The emails also did not satisfy the statute of frauds, as they contemplated a three-year term but did not contain all the material terms nor a signature from the party to be bound. Finally, the plaintiff had not been damaged because the plaintiff did not actually have the rights he was claiming were violated. 

 

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