Tag: contract law

A Juicy Bet

By Zachary Edelman

I would bet that all of us have made a bad wager or two in our lives. For some of us it was doubling down that pair of fours on the Blackjack table when we were feeling lucky. For others, it was a casual $1 bet with our sister as to which contestant would be eliminated next on “The Bachelor.” (Note to Sis: thanks for not making me pay up.)

Odds are that most of us have never bet $9.25 million; most of us don’t have that kind of money. And even if we did, we would be smart enough to fold on any bet raised that high. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers must have skipped a few accounting classes in college as evidenced by his most recent gamble.

Back in February 2012, Mr. Rodgers bet a man he’d never met, Colorado nurse Todd Sutton, that he was ab-so-lute-ly certain that friend and business partner Ryan Braun, outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers, was playing “clean” – despite allegations and rumor to the contrary. He was so ab-so-lute-ly certain, in fact, that he offered to pay Mr. Sutton his annual salary if he was wrong.

Fast-forward to August 2012, and he admitted to using PEDs after being linked to a Miami clinic that supplied steroids to many other professional athletes. He was subsequently suspended for the rest of the season (65 games).

The story has been reported by many media outlets, but none of them looked into the chances of Mr. Sutton’s chances of calling his marker on that bet. We’ll tell you what would happen if Mr. Sutton decides to roll the dice in civil court.



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Quite Possibly, a Bad Rap

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?



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Ryan Leslie Says “Reward? What Reward?”

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…)



Should Kim Kardashian Give Kris Humphries Back the Ring?

By LASIS Staff

As MSNBC reports, there is a “heated debate on the interwebs” about whether Kim should keep her $2 million engagement ring, after a mere 72 days of wedded bliss.

On Valentine’s Day 2010, LASIS tackled the issue of when a woman must return an engagement ring under the law.

For what it’s worth: A moment before we posted this, msnbc’s online poll had 93.6% of readers voting, in response to the question of whether Kim should give back the ring, “Yes, it was a barely a marriage.” A mere 6.4% voted “No, it was a gift”.

We’re with the majority on this one.


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Telling Tales Out of (Private) School

By Sarah Berent

Drunk students, drunk teachers, nude photos, oh my! No, we’re not eavesdropping on the writers room of the CW’s Gossip Girl, but reading the legal complaint of Herbert Nass and Jodi Nass, who recently sued the exclusive Horace Mann prep school and some of its administrators for refusing to expunge their son’s suspension from his record for two million dollars(!) plus a refund of the school’s hefty tuition, $35,670. (Due to privacy concerns, his first name and the names of all other students involved in the incident leading to the suspension were omitted in the complaint). The Nasses’ 16-year-old son, we’ll call him Nass Jr., was disciplined for possessing nude pictures of a fellow female classmate on his computer. The pictures were discovered on an overnight field trip by other students while Nass Jr. was napping in another room.

The Nasses’ decision to sue Horace Mann was not an easy one, as both have a long and close relationship with the school.  Both parents are alumni, both held positions on the Alumni Council for the 2009-2010 school year, and Mr. Nash has stated that he had planned to leave the school a five-figure bequest.  They were proud to be associated with the school that counts ACLU co-founder Morris Leopold Ernst and former New York Times publisher Arthur Hays Sulzberger among its graduates.

The New York City private school community is famously tight-lipped and seldom generate negative publicity, making the Nasses’ lawsuit and their decision to sue and talk about it with The New York Times all the more surprising.  But Horace Mann has been involved in controversy about its student’s online activities before. In 2008, a New York Magazine article exposed Horace Mann’s frustrated attempts to censor student-made Facebook pages that cruelly mocked their teachers.

The Nasses claim their suit is about “fairness” while Horace Mann calls the legal action “an attempt to sanitize their child’s school record.” Although the Times neatly laid out the two sides of the dispute, the article failed to discuss the actual legal theory behind the lawsuit. Can the law really force a private school to expunge a student’s record or is this just a rich family’s attempt to bully the school with bad publicity? And what about those nude pictures? Can Nass Jr. be in trouble for possessing child pornography? (more…)