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Academy Chicago Publishers v. Cheever

Supreme Court of Illinois
578 N.E.2d 981 (1991)


In 1987, Academy Chicago Publishers (Academy) (plaintiff) entered into an agreement with Mary Cheever (defendant), the widow of published author John Cheever, to publish an anthology of John Cheever’s short stories. The agreement provided no specific requirements for delivery dates or numbers of stories or pages to be included in the anthology. Academy collected and delivered approximately sixty short stories to Cheever and provided her with an advance to review the stories for inclusion in the anthology. Cheever then informed Academy that she objected to publication of the book and attempted to return the advance. Academy filed suit in circuit court in 1988 seeking a declaratory judgment. The trial court held that the agreement between Academy and Cheever was a valid and enforceable contract; that Cheever could select the short stories; that Cheever could discharge her contractual obligations by selecting ten to fifteen short stories totaling at least one hundred forty pages; and that Academy could publish the book in cooperation with Cheever. The appellate court reversed in part regarding control of the publication, but affirmed the trial court’s ruling that the agreement was valid and enforceable. The parties appealed to the Supreme Court of Illinois.

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