Friday, March 23, 2012

Parker v. 20th Century Fox Film Corp. case brief

Parker v. 20th Century Fox Film Corp.; (Sup. Ct. of CA, 1970); CB 40; Notes 6
  • Facts: Fox hired P, Shirley MacLaine, to act in “Bloomer Girl,” a musical to be filmed in CA. K gave P approval rights over the director and screenplay. Fox cancelled movie, broke K w/ P. Fox offered P a part in another move, “Big Country, Big Man” for same salary, but it was a western to be filmed in Australia. P would also lose approval rights. P declined job offer and sued for full payment of her promised salary for “Bloomer Girl.” Fox claims that P failed to mitigate damages by rejecting 2nd offer.
  • Holding: P not obligated to accept role in 2nd film since if was of a different and inferior quality.
  • Rule: the measure of recovery by a wrongfully discharged employee is the amount of salary agreed upon for the period of service, less the amount that the employer affirmatively proves the employee has earned or with reasonable effort might have earned from other employment. Employee’s rejection of or failure to seek other available employment of a different or inferior kind may not be resorted to in order to mitigate damages.
  • Dissent: thought that the question of whether the substitute offer was “different” should go to a jury b/c “it has never been the law that the mere existence of differences between two jobs in the same field is sufficient, as a matter of law, to excuse an employee wrongfully discharged from one from accepting the other in order to mitigate damages.
  • Commentary: from this and other cases, we can glean some factors that are probative of whether a new offer of employment, whether from the breaching party of a third party, is a reasonable substitute. Is the offer for a job in the same field? Does the employee have the same rights as in the original contract? Does the employee have new duties or responsibilities? Is the compensation different? How will the substitute job affect the injured party’s career?

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