A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: Armin Augstein

Quite Possibly, a Bad Rap

Ryan Leslie

By Ryan Morrison

Ryan Leslie is a lot of things. He’s a Harvard University alum who completed his schooling at age 19. He’s a record producer, an R&B singer, and a rapper with a large and loyal fan base. He’s even the founder of a successful media company. One thing he is not, however, is an attorney.

So when his backpack was stolen during a tour in Cologne, Germany, in 2010, he probably should have consulted a lawyer before uploading not one, but two YouTube videos offering rewards for his lost property. First, Mr. Leslie offered a $20,000 reward for the return of his bag containing a hard drive and laptop with beats and recordings invaluable to the musician. With no results, he upped the reward to $1,000,000.

When a German auto shop owner out on a dog walk found the bag containing the computer and the hard drive and demanded his million dollar reward, Mr. Leslie refused to pay because, he said, none of the information on the hard drive was retrievable. This started an offer/acceptance problem that would make a law student scream his mother’s name and pass out during a contracts exam.

Our legal system, in its infinite wisdom, takes a problem too complex for most lawyers and asks twelve individuals with no legal training to figure it out. And in a Manhattan federal court last November, a jury ordered Mr. Leslie to pay Armin Augstein, the man who found the hard drive, the full $1 million. Later, the court ordered Mr. Leslie to an additional $180,000 for interest that accrued between the finding of the laptop and the court’s decision. Various newspapers, most notably the New York Post, have ruthlessly mocked Mr. Leslie for trying to get out of paying what he promised.

We wrote about the case in November of 2011 and came to the conclusion, after reading the media headlines, that Mr. Leslie had to pay up.  But we’ve since had the opportunity to learn more about the case.

We talked to David DeStefano, the attorney for Mr. Leslie, and we’re not certain the correct decision was reached.

…But let’s take a look together, shall we?

(more…)

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Ka-Ching! Dog Takes Walk, Makes $1 Million

nypost_20121129_3_001_C_3

By LASIS Staff

A little over one year ago, LASIS told you about Ryan Leslie, a rap artist whose computer was stolen while performing in Germany.  The laptop had his songs on it, and he offered a $1 million reward.

Armin Augstein was out walking his dog near Cologne when he found that laptop, leading LASIS to coronate this excursion “The Most Profitable Dog Walk in History.”

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we were the first to do the legal analysis on this strange case, and we found that there had in fact been an offer, an acceptance, and a valid contract.  Mr. Augstein was suing for nonpayment and we suggested Mr. Leslie settle.

Now a jury has found that Mr. Leslie’s on the hook for both the $1 million and his attorney bill.

Lesson:  Do yourselves a favor and listen to LASIS. And don’t forget to vote.

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Most Profitable Dog Walk in History?

OneMillionDollars

By LASIS Staff

Last November, we published the strange story of Ryan Leslie, an R&B singer whose laptop was lost or stolen while traveling and performing in Germany. Because there were unpublished songs on the computer’s hard drive, he offered a $1 million reward to whoever returned it to him.

Armin Augstein was out walking his dog, he says, when he found the computer, but Mr. Leslie refused to pay up. Mr. Augstein sued. We analyzed the case, found there was, in fact, a binding contract, and predicted Mr. Leslie would settle and avoid going to trial. As our reporter Nadia Harris so memorably put it, “Mr. Augstein may actually have taken the most profitable dog walk in history.”

Now there are allegations, on both sides, that the other party erased the computer’s hard drive. Mr. Leslie says that he doesn’t owe any money because the computer was returned with its hard drive scrubbed clean. Mr. Augstein accuses Mr. Leslie of erasing the hard drive post-return to avoid paying the $1 million reward.

The case is going to trial. Stay tuned.

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