A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: reward

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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Ryan Leslie Says “Reward? What Reward?”

ryan_leslie2

By Nadia-Elysse Harris

Behind the scenes footage of R&B singer Ryan Leslie on his European tour last November showed the frantic moments immediately following the loss of his laptop. At the end of the clip, a written statement turned Mr. Leslie’s laptop search into a real life treasure hunt:

“In the interest of retrieving the invaluable intellectual property contained in his laptop and hard drive, Mr. Leslie has increased the reward offer from $20 thousand to $1 million.”

Apparently the singer had been creating material for his new album when a bag containing his laptop, $10 thousand in cash, and his passport disappeared in Cologne, Germany.  Word of the hefty reward sparked interest across the web, but when no one heard anything further from the singer on the subject, it was assumed that his effort to retrieve his lost belongings had been futile.

That was, until 52-year-old Armin Augstein filed suit on October 24 in the New York Southern District Court. (Though the laptop was lost and found in Germany, diversity jurisdiction allows Mr. Augstein to sue in U.S. federal court.) claiming that he’d found the laptop while walking his dog nearly ten miles away from Cologne. He brought the laptop to the police who, in turn, returned it to Mr. Leslie. Mr. Augstein further claims that he repeatedly tried to contact the musician, but never heard back from him with the reward.  Now he’s seeking the $1 million reward that Mr. Leslie promised, plus interest.

The NY Daily News reported the suit and did not lend much credence to the merits of Mrs. Augstein’s case. But LASIS believes that Mr. Augstein’s suit is a strong one, and that Mr. Leslie, who graduated Harvard with a degree in Government, should use his smarts and settle out of court instead of getting caught up in a trial and legal fees.  Here’s why:   (more…)

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