Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer v. Scheider

Supreme Court, New York County, New York

347 N.Y.S2d 755, 75 Misc. 2d 418 (1972)

 

Facts

MGM produced a pilot where Scheider is in it. Scheider falls into a breakout role on accident. MGM wants to exercise its option to make the rest of the season. Scheider doesn’t want to do it.

Issue

If a contract hasn’t been fully finished and signed, is it legally enforceable?

Arguments for Both Parties

Scheider states that since the dates of the specifics of the contract were not worked out, there is no contract enforcing his work on a television show.

Holding

Court eventually affirms for the defendant, allowing MGM to take an action of injunction making Scheider not work for anyone else during that time if Scheider does not work on the season.

Reasoning behind Holding

It is the custom and the practice of the industry that when a pilot is filmed in the fall of the year, shown to the network during the winter, the network will release the season the next fall which means that they will need to film during the immediate spring and summer following the pilot. They all knew this.

Rule

Where the parties have completed their negotiations of what they regard as essential elements, and their performance has begun on the good faith understanding that agreement on the unsettled matters will follow, the court will find and enforce a contract even though the parties have expressly left these other elements for future negotiations and agreement, if some objective method of determination is available, independent of either party’s mere wish or desire.

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