A news show’s editing almost cost a Florida lawyer $1 million. Taking up what he believed to be one part of a verbal contract, a young man pursued a breach of contract suit after he claimed that the lawyer never followed through with his end of the contract. However, he was unaware that he had not heard the entirety of the lawyer’s offer.
In 2006, a Florida attorney gave a television interview in order to publicly defend one of his clients that had been accused of murder. He proposed that his client could not possibly have committed the murders as he had insufficient time to travel from a busy airport to a nearby hotel. The lawyer was then quoted as saying that if anyone could accomplish the feat in the proposed time that he would shell out $1 million.
At the time, a young law student took the lawyer’s offer to mean that he was offering a unilateral contract. The student managed to make the trip in under the quoted time — which was 28 minutes — and then sought payment from the lawyer. When the lawyer refused, the law student sued him for breach of contract.
As the breach of contract suit moved through the federal court system, it was revealed that the news show had actually edited the lawyer’s $1 million offer. The challenge hadn’t been open to just anyone but was specifically limited to the prosecution in his client’s case. When it comes to verbal contracts, ensuring that there is complete understanding by both parties is imperative in order to avoid any misunderstandings and any potential breach of contract accusations. As with other potential legal claims, anyone who believes they have been damages as the result of a breach of contract may benefit by a careful review of all of the relevant facts and circumstances with respect to the claim.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter, How a Lawyer Got Out of His $1 Million ‘Challenge’ on NBC’s ‘Dateline’, Eriq Gardner, Jan. 31, 2014