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Blaustein v. Burton

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Cole Grubbs

on 10 November 2015

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Transcript of Blaustein v. Burton

Issue
Was there any kind of enforceable contract formed?
Reasoning
The implied contract was formed in 1964 when appellant (Blaustein) conceived an idea consisting of a number of constituent elements in the production of a film. On June 30, 1964, Blaustein met with the Burtons in New York. During the meeting, Blaustein shared his motion picture idea, including a few specifics as to who would direct, who would star, and other various details. In Richard Burton’s responses to his ideas, it was implied that Blaustein would be producer of the film.

Procedural History
In the California Court of Appeals, plaintiff, Julian Blaustein filed a complaint on November 14, 1967 against defendants Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor Burton, and Franco Zeffirelli seeking damages for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, breach of confidential relationship and services rendered and benefits conferred after the Burton’s and their representatives took an idea for a film that was originally conceived by Blaustein. The court found that Blaustein was entitled to compensation by the respondents.
Facts
Blaustein was a credited producer on many motion pictures since 1949.
During 1964, Blaustein conceived many ideas regarding producing a motion picture based on Shakespeare’s play, “The Taming of the Shrew” such as: casting Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor Burton as the main characters, selecting Franco Zeffirelli to direct, and other ideas regarding other details.
Blaustein shared his ideas in a meeting with the Burtons.
The film idea that Blaustein came up with went on to be produced and exhibited in or about March of 1967 without Blaustein as the producer.
Blaustein believed he was entitled to compensation.
Respondents refused to compensate Blaustein for his ideas, so Blaustein sued for (1) breach of contract, (2) unjust enrichment, (3) breach of confidential relationship and (4) services rendered and benefits conferred.
The court looked into whether or not an expressed contract had been created.
The court reviewed the question of Blaustein having protectable rights to his ideas for the film.
The court also determined that the agreement was not barred by the statute of fraud, or by the statute of limitations.

Holding
Yes, an implied contract was formed between Blaustein and the Burton’s and their representatives.
California Court of Appeal, 1970.
9 Cal.App.3d 161, 88 Cal. Rptr. 319.

Rule
Express or implied contracts both are based upon the intention of the parties and are distinguishable only in the manifestation of assent. The making of an agreement may be inferred by proof of conduct as well as by proof of the use of words.
Blaustein v. Burton
Judgement/Disposition
The court found that a contract was formed and Julian Blaustein was entitled to compensation and respondents (the Burton’s) were liable to pay the damages owed.
Epstein Concepts
Compensatory Damages
(p. 160) “Blaustein was replaced as producer however Burton's continued on with film production excluding Blaustein from compensation for idea of the movie.

Definition: the amount of money necessary to make up for the economic loss caused as a result of the breach of contract.

Contract Drafting | Use the 3 P’s
(p. 254) “Although both Blaustein and Burton were within the sanctity of a meeting, where industry standards may protect the stealing of an idea, the signing of a non-disclosure provision/agreement would of provided security.

Definition: predict what might happen, provide for it in the agreement, and protect you and your client.

Expressed or Implied Contracts
(p. 7) “Blaustein divulged ideas in regards to the production of the film with Burtin under the mutual assumption that both parties would collaborate to make the idea of the film become a reality.

Definition: an expressed contract is the most common type of contract because the parties have explicit terms (written or oral). Implied contracts focus on the words or conduct between the parties as opposed to whether there was a clear intent to form a contract.
Questions
1. Was an implied contract established?
(A) True
(B) False

2. Who did the court rule in favor of?
(A) Appellate (Blaustein)
(B) Respondent (Burton)
(C) Jury
(D) Columbia Studios

3. Based on your analysis was there an infringement of copyright?
Full transcript