Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Titanic's Ubiquity

For the love of God, there is no escaping the movie Titanic. I thought for sure a contracts course would be safe-harbor from that awful movie. I was wrong.

The case was Wood v. Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon. The issue was about exclusive rights, contracts and consideration. Cardozo really stuck it to ol' Lady Duff. In reference to her he states "Defendant is a 'creator of fashions' whose favor helps a sale". Putting things in "quotes" is about the closest thing to a sarcasm font we have in writing.

Our professor asked the class if they knew who she was. I didn't have a clue, but other class members did. Our professor read a court transcript of Lady Duff on the stand in an unrelated trial. I wish our professor had emailed it to us. Believe me, this woman was a piece of work. Undoubtedly Cardozo knew all about her when he wrote the majority decision. He really stuck it to her.

I did find this. Lady Duff was asked if she had bought any war bonds during WWI. Here is her response:

"Why should I buy any? This country means nothing to me. I have had nothing

but trouble over here. It is an awful country." Lady Duff Gordon in Court, N.Y.

TIMES, Apr. 13, 1919 at 22.

I have no doubt Cardozo knew about Lady Duff's reputation when he wrote that decision. For the record, the Chief Judge of the NY Court of Appeals (NY's 'Supreme Court') at the time was Frank Hiscock.

I could only roll my eyes when our professor mentioned the movie Titanic. I've tried to watch that saccharine crap all the way through, but I couldn't do it. It didn't help that I had to hear Celine Dion's shrill voice on the score. I think after 30 minutes into the movie, I was rooting for the iceberg.

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