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Quote of the Day - My philosophy, like color television, is all there in black and white. - Monty Python
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The Boilerplate Of Oral Contracts

"The big print giveth and the small print taketh away."  This case between an actress and her personal manager more than proves that adage, especially since the contract wasn't written.   This one ought to be good.

Seems that Rosa Blasi (link somewhat safe to open at work) who isn't a doctor but plays one on TV in the Lifetime show, Strong Medicine, got into a dispute with her personal manager and ended up on the defense side of a lawsuit.  Her manager sued under the terms of an oral contract alleging it was owed 15% of her earnings based on the terms of the contract, which Blasi had supposedly refused to pay.  What contract you may ask?  The oral personal management contract.

Blasi's defense was that her manager wasn't a licensed talent agent, and thus under California law her manager couldn't collect the fee.  The trial court agreed, and granted judgment in her favor.  The manager appealed.

The manager countered that the contract was actually two-fold:  one to obtain employment and the other to manage the actress.  The former required a license, the latter did not.  Moreover, the manager contended that the licensing statute did not require the manager to forfeit the portion of the contract related to obtaining the audition and TV show for the actress.  Therefore, the manager was entitled to be paid, and even if it did need a license and had to forfeit a portion of the monies, the two contracts were severable and its failure to hold a license didn't invalidate the entire contract, or so that argument went.

The court of appeals agreed and gave the manager a "do over" and sent the case back to the trial court to determine whether the oral contracts were severable.  Most written contracts, somewhere in the boilerplate, generally contain a "savings clause," commonly known as a severability clause.  When one provision in the contract is determined to be illegal, that one provision doesn't invalidate the entire contract.

I don't know how you determine whether such a provision exists in an oral contract., especially since both sides will likely claim the exact opposite, if this appeal is any indication.

Ya gotta love LA.  A TV doctor testifying about oral contracts and a personal manager drafting them.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, June 28, 2006 at 23:39 Comments Closed (0) |
 
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