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A BUSKLAW Newsletter Aside: Menu of Legal Services

Time to post my 
Menu of Legal Services (Enjoy - and don't worry about an uncorking fee.)
Recent posts

The BUSKLAW March Newsletter: You Just Purchased a Haunted House! Can You Sue and Get Some Relief?

This is the Los Angeles mansion used in the first season of the television series American Horror Story. The new owners are not amused.

Are you troubled by strange noises in the middle of the night?
Do you experience feelings of dread in your basement or attic? Have you or a member of your family ever seen a  spook, specter, or ghost?  ----Ghostbusters. Dir. Ivan Reitman. Perf. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver. Columbia Pictures, 1984. Film.
The new owners of the Rosenheim Mansion in Los Angeles, CA, are suing the sellers and their real estate agent for $3 million for failure to disclose several problems with the house, including the fact that it's haunted by two ghosts. In addition, the house was the focus of American Horror Story - Murder House, a Fox television series of the horror genre (its quality varies), and fans of the show stop by for photos and have allegedly tried to break-in (undoubtedly looking for the ghosts)…

The BUSKLAW February Newsletter: You Just Received an Unsolicited Product Idea from a Customer - Now What?

At any time (but typically at 4:55 p.m. on a Friday afternoon before a long weekend), you or another senior manager at your company will receive an enthusiastic voicemail, email, or tweet like this:

Hi [name]: I'm one of your best customers! I've been buying your widgets for the last 40 years. Recently, I thought of a way you could enhance your product line with a new widget, one that does "X" and looks like "Y." Please call me at XXXXXXXXXX to learn more!  Or visit my website: where I have a mock-up of my widget. You won't be sorry! Let's get rich together!

"Hmm," you think. "This guy could be on to something. I should contact him and learn what he has in mind." Or, more likely: "we thought of a new widget like this years ago and rejected it."

This may sound harsh, but engaging with a person (not your employee or contractor) over their idea for a new product (whether the product is tangible or inta…

The BUSKLAW January Newsletter: Recent Court Decisions Prove It: Every Word in a Contract Has Meaning!

In contracts, words are weapons. A lawyer who effectively drafts contracts will make careful word choices because the client's fate often depends on it. And every word in a contract has meaning: two recent cases support that truth. 

First, we have Heimer v. Companion Life Insurance Co., a 6th Circuit Court of Appeals decision issued just a few days ago. One Beau Heimer got drunk with his friends, but they all decided to take their motorbikes off-road for even more fun. Unfortunately, Beau collided with one of his pals and suffered major injuries; the medical expenses to put Beau back into some semblance of order exceeded $200,000.00. Beau filed a claim with Companion Insurance, but they declined to pay. Why? Because the vehicle insurance policy that they issued to Beau contained an exclusion for theillegal use of alcohol

Beau's attorney was crafty. He argued that Beau didn't illegally use alcohol. Beau was not a minor and didn't drink in defiance of a court order. Beau…

The BUSKLAW December Newsletter: Resolving the "Mental Mist" of an Ambiguous Contract

(Author's Note: Props to Kilroy J. Oldster for coining the term "mental mist.")

Contractual ambiguity - usually created when two provisions of the same contract irreconcilably conflict with each other - isn't pretty. At best, it's embarrassing to the lawyer who drafted the document; at worst, it thwarts the business purpose of the contract and may lead to litigation.

A typical case of contractual ambiguity results when a contract incorporates another document in the text that conflicts with one or more provisions. This scenario played out in Klapp v United Insurance Group Agency, a 2003 Michigan Supreme Court case. The decision prescribes how a Michigan court should resolve contractual ambiguity.

Craig Klapp was an insurance agent for United Insurance from 1990 to 1997. In 1990, he signed an "Agent's Agreement" that included a Vesting Schedule stating that on his retirement at an unspecified age and provided that he had worked at least two years for U…