Klein & Wilson

Lessons learned from famous contract disputes

Most California business owners would like to skip contract disputes if that were possible. Unfortunately, it is not always. 

Famous disagreements end up in national news at times, including the case from a few years back when Martha Stewart had to appear in court to settle a dispute about her contract with retail giant Macy's. Her company had agreed to an exclusive contract on some products Macy's would sell. Others appeared on rival J.C. Penney's shelves, and Macy's suggested Martha Stewart had violated the contract.

Then there was the well-known dispute involving DeAndre Hopkins and the National Football League. Hopkins desperately wanted to renegotiate his rookie contract for a sweeter deal; after all, he had become extremely valuable to his team faster than many young players do. His fine for stubbornly sitting out of practice was $40,000 per day. In the end, he returned to practice, finished out his rookie contract and signed on for another five years with the Texans.

Contract disputes are not easy to settle. Both sides have strong reasons for holding their positions, and many times money is at the core.

FindLaw helps small business owners support their positions with specific contract provisions. First, be sure the terms are clear. Ambiguity opens the door for contract disputes, as does the lack of a contingency plan. Be sure the agreement covers "all of the possible situations which may arise."

Also, FindLaw reminds entrepreneurs to be careful to "get it in writing." Anything that is not in writing may not be enforceable. 

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