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Q: property law ( Answered,   5 Comments )
Subject: property law
Category: Reference, Education and News > Education
Asked by: 83-ga
List Price: $15.00
Posted: 16 May 2002 10:06 PDT
Expires: 23 May 2002 10:06 PDT
Question ID: 16599
consider the following situation:
homer has entered into a contract with king(a theatrical agent) on
behalf of his son bart,a child actor. under the terms of the contract
bart may not accept any roles other than those procurred by
king,although king is under no obligation to secure roles for
the event that bart gets a role,king is entitled to 90% of the fees
and assosiated merchendising but king is under no obligation that bart
has a living wage. bart(through his father)now seeks to escape from
the contract an king has sought a decree of specific performance.homer
has also threatened to publish a highly colourful defamatory article
about king in a sunday newspaper if king wont release bart from the
contract.king is seeking an interloctury injunction to prevent
publication. it has also emerged that king has made threats to homer
'kneecapped ' if he doesnt withdraw the article.

Advise King of his legal an equitable remerdies and there
Subject: Re: property law
Answered By: weisstho-ga on 16 May 2002 17:34 PDT
Profesor Corbin, in his book on Contract Law, speaks to Unconscionable
Bargains where he says that it is difficult to believe that judges can
fail to be influenced by equtable doctrines in the granting of any of
the remedies that are available. "There is sufficient flexibility in
the concepts of fraud, duress, misrepresentation, and undue influence,
not to mention differnences in economic bargaining power, to enable to
courts to avoid enforcement of a bargain that is shown to be
unconscionable by reason of gross inadequacy of consideration
accompanied by other relevant factors."  Corbin, section 128, p. 188.

I would suppose that Homer can approach this either as a plaintiff,
asking the court to either reform or rescind the contract based upon
the unconscionable terms, or as a defendant who, when sued for
specific performance, or damages, uses the unconscionable terms (and
other contract law theories, such as lack or inadequacy of
consideration) as (affirmative) defenses.


Clarification of Answer by weisstho-ga on 16 May 2002 17:45 PDT
oops. Part 2.  As to publishing the article, Homer should tread with
extreme care. Defamatory comments are open for attack, but of course
truth is a defense, but perhaps only a defense during a $25,000 civil
trial. At least under the American theory of legal fees, each party is
going to be stuck with their substantial legal fees.

Part 3.  King's threats to kneecap Homer might well constitute an
assault - civil and/or criminal, if Homer has been placed in
"apprehension".  (Don't confuse Assault with Battery: Battery is a
completed Assault; the swing might be the assault, whereas the contact
is the battery).

Of course, taking this to an attorney who specializes in Contract law
would be highly advisable. Preparing for that meeting by writing out a
thorough chronology of events and recollections would be very helpful
to the process, make the meeting more effective, and the clarity that
it would lend to the issues would result in a lower attorney fees
(fewer billable hours).

So, 83, I hope that this helps. Sorry for the split.

If there is ANYTHING that I can provide in the way of clarification,
please ask . . . I will be glad to amplify any aspect.

Best regards,

Subject: Re: property law
From: rebeccam-ga on 16 May 2002 11:37 PDT
Hello there!

First of all, Bart should immediately report his experiences to the
Screen Actors Guild, so they can investigate King and shut him down:

SAG National Office and Hollywood Office
5757 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036-3600
Main Switchboard: (323) 954-1600
Fax: (323) 549-6603
For Deaf Performers Only: (323) 549-6648 
( )

SAG may be able to tell Bart whether there have been previous
complaints against King, which may help in a legal fight, and they'll
almost certainly be able to advise Bart on his legal recourses.
Subject: Re: property law
From: rebeccam-ga on 16 May 2002 12:11 PDT
Let me elaborate on my previous comment...  My suggestion comes not
from research, but from my experience as a professional actor. 
Unfortunately, it is very cmomon for unscrupulous agents to take
advantage of performers who are new to the industry, especially

Until recently, legitimate agents (meaning bona fide, different from
'legit' agents, who work in theater) were 'franchised', or operated
under a standard contract with the appropriate actors' union.  Those
contracts placed no restrictions on acceptable jobs, limited
commissions to 10% and restricted commissionable income, expired after
1 year with an optional renewal, and could be terminated in writing by
either party (with some qualifcations.)  There were surely some
differences in contracts for children, but nothing fundamental.

The franchise agreememt expired a few months ago, ensuing attempts to
come to a compromise failed, and now agenta and actors are in a kind
of limbo.  (Details are available at and through the mail
SAG website listed in the pervious comment.)

The expiration does not affect existing agreements between actors and
formerly franchised agents, just new ones.  I'd be interested to know
whether Bart signed with King before or after the Franchise agreement
expired, as that may affect SAG's ability to intervene.
Subject: Re: property law
From: rebeccam-ga on 16 May 2002 13:33 PDT
Pardon my adding things as I find them... operates message boards on various legal subjects.  Here
is the link to the Board for Contract Law:!skip=600
Subject: Re: property law
From: tracker-ga on 16 May 2002 17:53 PDT
Hey Tom, thanks for the entertainment tonight ... you definitely gave me a chuckle!!
Subject: Re: property law
From: nonpareil-ga on 23 May 2002 16:08 PDT
Dear 83-ga:

I hope the following observations may be of some help.  At the least,
they may prompt further comments concerning your apparent

1. Treatises such as Corbin on Contracts is a type of “persuasive”
authority by a “commentator.”  It would probably be helpful to inform
those on Google Answer who may be able to provide helpful suggestions,
which jurisdiction(s) may be involved in your fact pattern.  If
there’s already a relevant statute or decisional law (a published
appellate decision) in the State(s) where the courts would have
jurisdiction, that’s on point concerning the facts of the dispute,
it’s the opinion or statute that’s going to be the basis on which
you’ll probably want to make your decisions.  If Bart and King are in
different states, the possibility of federal jurisdiction also arises.

2. My opinion is apparently consistent with your own, and Weisstho-ga,
that the terms of the contract you’ve described are unconscionable. 
But, it seems to me, only an attorney will be able to definitively
advise you of a proper course of action.  Two thoughts occur in that
regard.  First, is there a sufficient likelihood of substantial
recovery to motivate the attorney to accept your case on a contingent
basis?  Second, might the attorney not agree that a suit for
injunctive relief could short-circuit what might otherwise be a
lengthy and therefore costly judicial process?  The major
consideration with respect to the latter is the cost of the bond
necessary to permanent, if not temporary relief.  The reason I mention
this as a possible alternative is also because, at least in one
jurisdiction with which I’m familiar (Arizona), the grant or denial of
an application (or motion or petition) for such relief is immediately

3.  Weisstho-ga has made two particularly worthwhile comments you may
wish to pursue with an attorney.  I would think he or she would
consider it contrary to your best interest to complicate your matter
with questions of defamation, which may result from such a publication
as you've described.  Rather, particularly if you have documentation
to prove the threat was made, perhaps a law enforcement agency could
be persuaded to act on a complaint of assault (the distinction made is
accurate).  This alternative, if it is one, might relieve you of the
need to proceed civilly, at least at this point.  I would also, as
Weisstho-ga suggests, chronicle the matter in as much detail as
possible, in writing, complete with attachment of all documentation
available, before consulting an attorney.

4. SAG may be able and willing to provide historical data regarding
King.  Unless Bart is a member though, it’s likely SAG would avoid any
recommendation as to what recourse is available to you.  If Bart is a
member, however, perhaps SAG might attempt to intervene in his behalf,
again relieving you of the need to proceed civilly, at this point.

I hope this is helpful, and that a further inquiry by you to Google
Answer results in even more, helpful comments.  The situation does,
indeed, seem deplorable.

Best of luck,

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