Legal Question in Business Law in Arizona

Breech of e-mail contract

I entered into contract with a nationally circulated magazine to appear on the cover with an interview inside. I paid $1400 for this in advance. Our contact was over the phone. I was e-mailed an invoice and I wired the money into their account. The interview turned out to be racist garbage which we answered professionally. I manage a white rapper (musical artist) and the magazine historically caters to minority clients in a field that is largely dominated by minorities. There were several e-mails back and forth subsequently discussing logistical details. They have not contacted me as yet, but I understand the magazine is about to hit the stands without our cover shot, and I am assuming without the interview as well. My question is my right to sue for damages and what are the extent of theses damages. I also don't know whether this has to be in federal court because their office is in Arizona and I live in California.

Asked on 12/05/04, 10:20 pm

3 Answers from Attorneys

Jared Simmons Simmons & Gottfried, PLLC

Re: Breech of e-mail contract

From your e-mail, if the magazine does come out minus the cover and article, you certainly do have a breach of contract situation.

Because of the diversity of jurisdiction, CA and AZ, you may be able to bring it in federal court. Alternatively, depending on where it can be alleged that the contract was made, AZ or CA may be the appropriate venue. If you would like to discuss the above as well as the damages issue please call me at 480-998-1500.

Best of luck,

Jared Simmons

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Answered on 12/06/04, 10:35 am
Timothy J. Walton Internet Attorney

Re: Breech of e-mail contract

As the plaintiff, you get to choose whether you want to sue in California or Arizona, in state or federal court. However, a breach of contract action based on different jurisdictions would require alleged damages over $75,000, so I have doubts that federal court is appropriate.

The amount of damages may be as little as $1400 if they do not use your picture or the interview, or may be significantly higher if they libel you in some way. Did you ask for them to provide an advance copy of the magazine? Do you know when it will hit newsstands?

Call me at (650) 566-8500 if you would like to discuss details.

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Answered on 12/06/04, 12:01 pm
Bryan Whipple Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law

Re: Breech of e-mail contract

You probably do have the diversity of citizenship necessary to get you into Federal court, but unless your suit can realistically claim damages in excess of $75,000, you'd fail the amount-in-controversy test. However, there is a path into Federal court that isn't dependent upon diversity nor does it have an amount-at-issue minimum; that's so-called "Federal question" jurisdiction. If you can allege that some Federal law was violated, that also gets you in. At first blush, your case seems only to be a contract (state law) matter, but possibly a clever lawyer can find a Federal issue, such as a civil rights violation.

In any event, the suit doesn't HAVE to be filed in Federal court unless the main issue is violation of some Federal law, and the law is one of those (such as bankruptcy, patent and copyright laws) that gives exclusive jurisdiction of disputes to the Feds.

Many contracts have clauses stating where jurisdiction will be in the event of a dispute. Such clauses are generally enforceable.

Otherwise, your suit can be filed in the state where the defendant is incorporated or where it has its principal place of business, or, if it is a contract action, in the state where the contract was to be performed, where it was entered into, or possibly elsewhere.

The amount of damages is too fact-dependent to give you a good answer. It is not necessarily only $1,400, as you may be entitled to consequential damages for the breach of contract or perhaps damages based upon some tort theory.

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Answered on 12/06/04, 12:04 pm

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