The Case Law Compendium U.S. Law | Contract Law Table of Contents

The Case Law Compendium: US Law

Contract Law
‘Buttonwood Agreement’ by Unknown Artist

 July 20 2018

I am very pleased to announce that I have now completed the contract law chapter of the book, and so I can also share the contents here for those interested. There are a total of 47 cases available to read, and while it’s been a very insightful experience putting them all together, I genuinely hope they will help students get a quick grasp on the concept of contractual engagements, as well as the fundamental principles that frame them.

In all honesty contract law doesn’t have to feel like an overly complex field, and my conviction is that this section of the book (when it’s finished), will go a long way to dispelling the fears that many students doubtless carry into their Juris Doctor programs, and so without me droning on too much, below is the list of the historically notable contract-related cases included within the forthcoming Case Law Compendium: U.S. Law:

Contract Law

1. Alaska Packers Association v. Domenico

2. Allegheny College v. National Chautauqua County Bank of Jamestown

3. Ardente v. Horan

4. Austin Instrument Inc. v. Loral Corp.

5. Blatt v. University of So. California

6. Byers v. Federal Land Co.

7. Chicago Coliseum Club v. Dempsey

8. Embry v. Hargadine, McKittrick Dry Goods Co.

9. Feinberg v. Pfieffer Co.

10. Ferrera v. Nielsen

11. Globe Refining Co. v. Landa Cotton Oil Co.

12. Greiner v. Greiner

13. Groves v. John Wunder Co.

14. Halpert v. Rosenthal

15. Hamer v. Sidway

16. Hawkins v. McGee

17. Hill v. Gateway 2000 Inc.

18. Hobbs v. Massasoit Whip Co.

19. Hoffman v. Red Owl Stores Inc.

20. Hotchkiss v. National City Bank of New York

21. Jacob and Youngs v. Kent

22. Kirk La Shelle Co. v. Paul Armstrong Co.

23. Klocek v. Gateway Inc.

24. Leonard v. Pepsico Inc.

25. Lucy v. Zehmer

26. Mills v. Wyman

27. Murrow v. First National Bank of Hot Springs

28. Mutual Life Ins. Co. of New York v. Tailored Woman Inc.

29. Neri v. Retail Marine Corp.

30. Odorizzi v. Bloomfield School District

31. Ortelere v. Teachers Retirement Board of City of New York

32. Parker v. Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.

33. Peevyhouse v. Garland Coal & Mining Co.

34. ProCD Inc. v. Zeidenberg

35. Ricketts v. Scothorn

36. Rockingham County v. Luten Bridge Co.

37. Shaheen v. Knight

38. Sherwood v. Walker

39. Spooner v. Reserve Life Insurance Co.

40. Stop & Shop Inc. v. Ganen

41. Sullivan v. O’Connor

42. Sun Printing & Publishing Ass’n v. Remington Paper & Power Co.

43. U.S. for Use and Benefit of Crane Co. v. Progressive Enterprises Inc.

44. Vokes v. Arthur Murray Inc.

45. Williams v. Walker-Thomas Furniture Co.

46. Wood v. Boynton

47. Wood v. Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon


Hubbard v. Commonwealth

US Criminal Law

Hubbard v. Commonwealth
‘Soldiers Resting on Omaha Beach’ by Manuel Bromberg

The willful if not reckless action of a drunken soldier lies central to a manslaughter charge that almost left the defendant facing imprisonment for something (i) he did not do and (ii) could not recall.

Having been temporarily released from military service during the tail end of WWII, the defendant was arrested for public drunkenness, and so too inebriated to stand trial, he was ordered by the county judge to spend time in jail, whereupon he became violently aggressive and refused to leave the court.

After falling to the ground, the defendant continued to resist the actions of the jailer, who after trying hard with others to get him up, left the room and collapsed of a fatal heart attack, upon which the attending doctors later announced that his death had resulted from acute dilatation of the heart brought on by sudden physical exercise and excitement arising from the scuffle.

Tried in the circuit court of Jackson County, the jury found the defendant guilty of voluntary manslaughter  subject to a prison sentence of two years, upon which the defendant explained that he had no memory of the events and that the deceased was his friend.

Challenged before the Kentucky Court of Appeals, the court took steps to reevaluate the charge and determine whether the events were instead indicative of involuntary manslaughter, and so turning first to Hopkins v. Commonwealth, the court noted how it had held that:

“If one unlawfully wounds another, and thereby hastens or accelerates his death by reason of some disease with which he is afflicted, the wrongdoer is guilty of the crime thereby resulting.”

While in Commonwealth v. Couch it had also held that:

“Involuntary manslaughter is the killing of another in doing some unlawful act, but without intent to kill.”

However in Livingston v. Commonwealth, the court had also held that when a blow is struck upon an individual with a pre-existing and potentially fatal illness:

“The blow is neither the proximate cause of the death, nor is it, though made by extraneous circumstances to accelerate it, linked with it in the regular chain of causes and consequences. A new and wholly independent instrumentality is interposed in the shape of the disease; and in contemplation of law, the death stroke is inflicted by the hand of Providence, and not by the hand of violence.”

Upon which the court noted that the defendant had not at any point, made actual physical contact with the deceased, a fact which was further compounded by the truth that the deceased had complained of ill-health that day, and yet chose to continue working in a familiar and frequently stressful environment, therefore the court abruptly reversed the previous judgment in full.

In re Clark

US Contract Law

re Clark
‘The Cotton Pickers’ by Winslow Homer

The coercion of specific performance can be compelling to most contractual arrangements, however, when the agreement is one based upon involuntary servitude, the law will not assist those seeking to enforce it, despite which guise is chosen. 

In 1821 a negro woman by the name of Mary Clark filed a writ of habeas corpus to the Knox Circuit Court, on grounds that she was being unlawfully detained under a written indenture dated 1816, and one deemed effective for a period of twenty years.

Having viewed the construction of the contract, the court held it sufficient enough to bind upon both parties,  upon which the woman appealed before the Supreme Court of Indiana, who reexamined the validity of the agreement within the context of its construction.

As was known at the time, indentures were typically drafted to observe compliance with prescribed rules of conduct between a master and his apprentice, which by definition was a relationship founded upon obedience through transferred parental authority or loco parentis.

However at the execution of this particular indenture, both parties were of sufficient maturity to rescind the agreement should it no longer serve mutual interests, and so it was claimed that the arrangement was not one voluntarily executed, but instead by way of enslavement.

With consideration of numerous forms of contracts, including dispositions of land, the court was moved to stress that inequality arising from any notion that the legal system would assist in the enforcement of an agreement designed to impute inferiority between one person and another, was both unconstitutional and inhumane in equal measure, and so in holding the contract void, the court reminded the parties that:

Deplorable indeed would be the state of society, if the obligee in every contract had a right to seize the person of the obligor, and force him to comply with his undertaking. In contracts for personal service, the exercise of such a right would be most alarming in its consequences….”

While discharging the appellant from her alleged contractual obligations on grounds that:

“[W]hen the law will not directly coerce a specific performance, it will not leave a party to exercise the law of the strong, and coerce it in his own behalf.”

Before reversing the circuit court judgment in full and awarding costs in favour of the appellant, and now lawfully free woman.

The Beef and Chicken sections are now finished!

Our Favourite Recipes: A Cookbook for Food Lovers

Having now written up the first two sections of the cookbook, I thought I would share the contents here should anybody be curious to know which dishes will be covered. I admit  that I’m not a big beef eater, so there are naturally more chicken-based recipes, and as you will also see I am an ardent lover of curries too. I can also assure you that all of these recipes have been thoroughly road-tested, and will not disappoint once cooked and served up, and the theme here is about quality and not quantity, therefore each of these dishes easily speak for themselves.

On a personal level I’m very excited about this cookbook, and will stress that it’s been a genuine labour of love both cooking and adapting them ahead of my putting everything in one convenient point of reference.

Content-wise, my current estimations indicate there will be a total of 245+ recipes when the book is finished next spring/summer, and rest assured, there will plenty of dishes to  sink your teeth into when it’s finally published (if you’ll excuse the pun) and as each section is completed I will list their contents here first.


Beef Recipes

(1) Beef Bourguignon

(2) Beef Goulash

(3) Beef and Potato Curry

(4) Chilli-Con-Carne

(5) Curried Meatballs

(6) Curried Mince Beef with Peas

(7) Homemade Beefburgers

(8) Italian Meatballs

(9) Lasagne

(10) Shepherd’s Pie

(11) Spaghetti Bolognese


Chicken Recipes

(1) Baked Cardamom Chicken Curry

(2) Bengali Chicken

(3) Braised Chicken Curry

(4) Burmese Chicken Curry

(5) Caribbean Chicken Curry

(6) Chettinad Chicken Curry

(7) Chicken and Basil Fried Rice

(8) Chicken with Black Bean Sauce

(9) Chicken and Cardamom Curry

(10) Chicken and Green Bean Curry

(11) Chicken Kukupaka

(12) Chicken Stew

(13) Chicken Vindaloo

(14) Coconut and Soy Chicken

(15) Coriander Chicken

(16) Crispy Chicken and Tomatoes

(17) Delhi Hunter Chicken Curry

(18) Goan Chicken Moelho

(19) Jerk Chicken

(20) Kerala Chicken Curry

(21) Malay Chicken Curry

(22) Nagore Chicken Curry

(23) Nonya Chicken Curry

(24) Rizala Chicken

(25) Singapore Style Chicken Curry

(26) Special Chow Mein

(27) Sri-Lankan Curried Chicken

(28) Thai Fried Rice

(29) Thai Green Curry

(30) Trinidadian Curried Chicken

(31) Vietnamese Chicken Curry

(32) Yellow Curried Chicken

The Lift (My first attempt at writing fiction)

Personal Blog

I wrote this very brief introduction almost four years ago, at a time when I felt brave enough to see if I could try to write fiction. I admit that I’ve tidied it up a little, but when I read it last night, I felt very proud of myself for having tried, which as many writers know, is quite literally half the battle.

Anyway, I thought I’d share it here, and who knows, maybe one day I might breathe life into it enough to see where it takes me.

With blue skies you can see for miles, life in the English broker belt was financially enviable, but today was proving different. The rolling grey clouds were mirroring Jack Enroy’s persistent misery, and so the enveloping countryside instead felt claustrophobic and oppressive. 

With his childhood dream firmly eclipsed, Jack had become a wealthy business magnate wanting for little, yet demanding everything, both from himself and anyone foolish or brave enough to occupy the space around him. 

With heavy breath, Jack monitored his slowing heart rate and put his daily morning run behind him. 

“Twelve seconds slower today. Not good enough Jack, and don’t even try to bullshit me with your age.” He berated himself with a self-loathing he’d always confused for discipline, and now it was just a short walk back to his palatial family home nestled in the Surrey countryside, where he would shower in a bathroom worthy of a mortgage. 

As the steady hum of rush-hour traffic interrupted his dream, Alex Jones reluctantly raised his pale frame from  a poorly constructed IKEA bed and meandered into his dishevelled squat bathroom, unsure why he ever bothered to groom himself when it seemed that nobody really noticed his boyish good looks. 

As the head of an expansive I.T. department, it was a long-held fantasy that his technically brilliant mind would one day afford him a huge salary and a sense of command, particularly within a leading financial institution like the IBF. Unfortunately, it seemed that life always had other ideas, and so at twenty-three, his ambition was slowly dying with every rejection, and despite a hard-wired optimism, the glass was now beginning to appear very much half empty.

Making coffee and listening to the bleary moans of a self-righteous and sexist managing director does not a happy girl make, and Valerie Smytheson could tell you exactly why, if you’d only give her a couple of martini’s and an hour of your time. 

The lure of a well paid personal assistant role seemed to offer great opportunity in the jet-set world of corporate banking, but had she known the price her self-esteem would pay, things would have been markedly different. Now she would happily trade business suits for jogging pants and the domestic joy of motherhood, but hindsight is often a romantically depressing experience, and so with a deep breath and her best foot still foraging for happiness, she entered the lift, silently preparing herself for another day of verbal abuse. 

“For Christ’s sake, use your fucking mirrors you prick!” cursed cycle courier and accident escape artiste Derek Zimmerman, as he narrowly avoided the ineptitude of yet another faceless cab driver. 

Having scraped through university with a business degree, Derek still retained a false enough sense of security to imagine his career would begin immediately after his finals, yet a year and a half of daily internal confusion and countless flustered interviews, he was still pedalling across London just to pay the rent. 

The thirteenth floor of IBF House was home to more workstations than you could shake a stick at, and with young and seemingly unbreakable bank staff working sixteen-hour days, and snorting most bonuses up their noses, Farris Stein considered himself a key player in the power game, and so loss of face was never an option. His grand design was to retire before thirty and invest hard, because he genuinely believed that failure to secure himself financially would leave him homeless and alcoholic.

The facade of IBF headquarters shone like a new penny, and with acres of reflective glass walls, it was almost impossible to avoid critiquing one’s appearance as you travelled the miles of corridors, and as the latest face of modern finance, no expense had been spared to convey an image of utter superiority and swarthy affluence, and if fortunate to receive special invitation, your arrival would always be greeted with the finest coffee, enjoyed in hand-stitched leather chair with a copy of the Financial Times and an array of biscuits exquisite enough to make a vicar blush. 

Central to the reception area sat two spacious lifts powered by the best technology available, because after all, time is most definitely always money, and with the one of lift doors about to close, Derek  Zimmerman thrust his hand between them, nodding brusquely as he made his entrance. The scent of Starbucks lingered, and as he looked about he felt distinctly separate from the suits encircling him. 

“Why do I have to share the lift with these fucking losers?” thought Farris resentfully, as he propped his ego against the previous night’s coke binge. “One fucking day, I’ll have my own fucking lift, or better still I’ll fly to work in a fucking chopper” he sniggered to himself. 

“Yeah, a fucking gold-plated whirly bird that will show everyone just how fucking minted I am”. No sir, Farris Stein was not one to think small.

Valerie Smytheson’s nerves overtook her caffeine rush as she questioned whether she still looked attractive, or  if she’d gained weight over the weekend. “Damn my bloody hormones” she thought, “chocolate and chips will sit on your hips.” This was her new mantra, and once again she began beating herself over the head with it. 

“I need to get a personal trainer, because let’s face it, I suck at this diet lark, and I’m too bloody tired to lie to myself any longer”. It was a vicious cycle of self-examination and resignation that had driven her this far, and the only peace she found was in her hope a better day would come.

The presence of women always proved unnerving for Alex, and yet the familiar shape of Valerie Smytheson always lifted him from his quiet reflection, reminding him he was still very much  alive. 

“It’s crazy” he thought, “I know her password, I can check her emails, see what she looks at on the internet, but I just can’t talk to her.” That painful truth caused his shoulders to slump, and yet Alex knew that he would trade all of that unrestricted access for the chance to actually talk to her face-to-face.

Standing quietly at the back of the lift to avoid unnecessary attention, Jack Enroy wondered if the other four strangers knew how miserable wealth could really make you. “What would happen” he thought “if I just turned around, right now, and gave each of these people a million pounds sterling? Would they take it, or would they laugh at me? I’ll wager they would laugh, after all, nobody does that kind of thing do they?” 

Suddenly he felt like his day might be somehow different. Suddenly, he was tingling with a power he had never experienced before, an almost god-like and yet humble sense of compassion, and yet was also crippled with the shame of knowing how he had made his money. 

“Get hold of yourself Jack, you can’t trust these clowns with money like that, they’ll just piss it away and leave you humiliated.” His fear reminded him that whatever impulses triggered his sense of humanity, they were to remain just that.

And with his seemingly ‘wild’ idea now back in its box, the lift announced its arrival, as everybody adjusted themselves before going about their mundanely painful existences.

Emotive writing.

Personal Blog

I’m honestly not sure exactly what I’m saying in this blog, it just felt right that I wrote something at the very least.

It’s been a few weeks since I devoted more time to my fiction novel in terms of my working day, and on reflection its been the best thing I’ve ever done on my journey as a writer.

It’s not that I no longer enjoying writing around law, far from it in fact. It’s more about letting my imagination loose, probably for the first time since I was a young boy growing up in a lonely, and often scary world. One where my father had been long since gone by my tenth birthday, where my mother cared less for my welfare than I deserved, and where I felt I had no way to escape the pain of my own existence. In fact, to write about this now leaves me heavy hearted and sad, so I can only imagine how it felt way back then.

The premise for my debut novel came to me a long while ago, and yet as I slowly build a world that readers can invest themselves into, I continually have to overcome emotional and logical obstacles that threaten to stand in my way. Not because this book is so impossibly challenging to write, but because it’s like learning to walk moments after waking from a forty-year coma. And if there’s anybody unfortunate enough to know how that feels, I can only extend my sympathy as I reach out for some empathy of my own.

I suppose if there’s anything positive to take from all of this angst, it’s that my future is cemented to an insatiable pursuit of storytelling through the written word, and I feel as if I’m just starting out, even though I’m almost fifty, which leaves me to assume (rightly or wrongly) that I’m what’s known as a ‘late bloomer’, or at least I hope that’s true, and that I’m not just kidding myself here.

Anyway, that’s all I can think of sharing today, however I would just add that while these emotional moments will one day become points of interest in this thing we call life, it always feels as if they’ll never end when I submit to their power.

I guess that’s why I spend so much of my time avoiding them.

Hopkins v. Commonwealth

US Criminal Law

Hopkins v. Commonwealth
‘La Miseria’ by Cristóbal Rojas

Murderous acts, or at the very least, assaults designed to cause significant harm, are nonetheless applicable to the death of a person, who at the time of the offence, was suffering from grave illness or an otherwise delicate constitution, as was found in this case.

Upon indictment before a Knox County grand jury in 1904, the appellant was charged with murder and sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment, whereupon he argued the the judgment was unlawful in that the jury had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that his actions were directly attributable to the victim’s death  at a time following the act.

By way of background, the appellant had chosen to leave his position as a labourer, whereupon his employer had pursued him out of anger, before verbally abusing the appellant in public before the two men settled their differences and went their separate ways.

Having met again in a convenience store, the now deceased employer again used profane and abusive language toward the appellant, whereupon the appellant stole a hand gun from the store clerk’s keeping and went after the deceased, later to shoot and wound him  on public highway.

Two months after the shooting the employer died not from the shooting itself, but as a result of an existing diagnosis of consumption (tuberculosis), a common disease at the time, however the jury found that the appellant deliberately and purposefully assassinated the employer, and that his actions exacerbated the illness and thereby accelerated his otherwise eventual death.

At the point of appeal, the Kentucky Court of Appeals first referred to p.129 of the Hand-Book of Criminal Law, in which W.M. L. Clark Jr. wrote: 

“The fact that the person killed was diseased and in ill health, or wounded by another, and was likely or sure to die when the blow was given, or that after the blow was given he neglected or refused to take proper care of himself, or submit to an operation by which he could have been cured, is no defense.”

Before further noting that on p.428 of A History of the Pleas of the Crown (Vol. I), Sir Matthew Hale stated that:

“If a man be sick of some such disease which possibly, by course of nature, would end his life in half a year, and another gives him a wound or hurt which hastens his end by irritating and provoking the disease to operate more violently or speedily, this hastening of his death sooner than it would have been is homicide or murder….”

And so despite claims of remoteness as to the actual cause of death, the court dismissed the appeal and upheld the previous judgment in full.