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Breaking a contract the Duke way

Those who know me realize that however much disdain I hold for Trial Lawyers, Inc., I hold far more for the University of New Jersey at Durham, a/k/a Duke. So I was particularly tickled when I saw what happened when trial lawyers and Duke crossed paths:

[The University of Louisville] sued Duke for $450,000 -- or a series with another Atlantic Coast Conference opponent -- after the Blue Devils backed out of a four-game football contract with three dates remaining.

The contract called for a penalty of $150,000 per game if a date with a "team of similar stature" could not be arranged.

Duke's lawyers argued the Blue Devils, which have a record of 6-45 over the past five seasons, were so bad that any team would be a suitable replacement.

Judge Shepherd agreed in his summary:

"At oral argument, Duke (with a candor perhaps more attributable to good legal strategy than to institutional modesty) persuasively asserted that this is a threshold that could not be any lower. Duke's argument on this point cannot be reasonably disputed by Louisville."

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Katherine Lazarski
Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.