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American List Corp. v. U.S. News & World Report, Inc.

75 N.Y.2d 38, 550 N.Y.S.2d 590, 549 N.E.2d 1161 (1989)

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American List Corp. v. U.S. News & World Report, Inc.

New York Court of Appeals

75 N.Y.2d 38, 550 N.Y.S.2d 590, 549 N.E.2d 1161 (1989)

Facts

U.S. News & World Report, Inc. (US News) (defendant) published a widely circulated national magazine. In January 1984, US News contracted with American List Corp. (List) (plaintiff) for List to compile and rent to US News mailing lists of college students. List did not have preexisting lists of college students. Under the parties’ contract, US News agreed to pay List a certain fee per student name for 10 years, with larger fees per name in the first five years to account for List’s start-up costs, or a total of approximately $3 million based on an estimated number of names. The schedule of fees was attached to the contract, and the estimated figures would be reviewed annually for potential adjustments. In September 1985, US News canceled the contract. US News had paid List for names for about a year and a half. List sued US News for breach of contract. The New York trial court awarded List damages of about $1.45 million for the breach, which constituted the present value of the balance due to List on the contract for the years 1985 to 1994. On appeal, US News argued that the damages awarded were “lost future profits” and “special damages” that were not sufficiently proven to be foreseeable and contemplated by the parties at the time the contract was made.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Alexander, J.)

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