ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Jeremy Telman
Oklahoma City University
School of Law

Friday, July 17, 2020

Teachers Tell Reese Witherspoon She Should Have Paid Attention During her Contracts Course in "Legally Blonde"

According to the New York Times Draper James, the fashion label of Reese Witherspoon Legally_Blonde_film_poster(pictured in movie poster, right), posted the following on Intagram on April 2:

Dear Teachers: We want to say thank you. During quarantine, we see you working harder than ever to educate our children. To show our gratitude, Draper James would like to give teachers a free dress.  To apply, complete the form at the link in bio before this Sunday, April 5th, 11:59 PM ET. (Offer valid while supplies last - winners will be notified on Tuesday, April 7th.)

School teachers were so excited about the offer that they crashed Draper James site.  Over one million applications were submitted, but Draper James only had 250 dresses to give away.   The company attempted to mollify the teachers by offering 30% off on their merchandise, but the teachers were unimpressed, and they got a bit salty.  As one put it on Twitter:

Wow. @draperjames clearly doesn't know how much teachers make. "We love teachers! Here's 30% off our ridiculously expensive dresses." If I'm spending over $100 on an "everyday dress," it better also grade essays. 

The company tried to apologize; it announced that it was making a donation to a charitable organization that helps teachers.  Too late.  As Principal Skinner illustrates (first 30 seconds are most relevant here, it's a big mistake to make a teacher mad.

The teachers filed this class action complaint, alleging breach of contract, promissory estoppel, restitution and various statutory claims under California law.  Draper James moved to dismiss.  The words  in the original Instagram post: "apply," "valid while supplies last," and "winners" all suggest that we are not dealing with an offer here.  Stay tuned.

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Fun case! Seems to me that limiting the obligation to supplies on hand makes it a bit more reasonable to interpret it to be an offer, because it's easier to imagine the supplier being wiling to commit. But I agree that the invitation to "apply" to become a "winner" makes it much less likely to be an offer. I can imagine wording in an application that leans toward a submitted application being a teacher's acceptance of an offer, with contractual performance conditioned on being draw as the winner of a lottery, but that requires some stretching!

Posted by: Charles R Calleros | Jul 17, 2020 4:05:28 PM