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Chodos v. West Publishing Co.

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
292 F.3d 992 (2002)


Facts

Rafael Chodos (plaintiff), a California attorney who specialized in the law of fiduciary duty, entered into a standard Author Agreement with the Bankcroft-Whitney Publishing Company (Bankcroft-Whitney) to write a treatise on the topic. During the time that Chodos was writing the treatise, Bankcroft-Whitney was sold to West Publishing Company (West) (defendant). After Chodos spent over 3,600 hours during three years writing the book, his manuscript was rejected by West. West did not reject Chodos’ manuscript because it was written poorly, but rather cited mainly marketing and economic reasons why it was choosing not to publish the treatise. In fact, West admitted that the manuscript was of “high quality” and that its decision was not due to any shortcomings in Chodos work. Chodos filed suit in state court for breach of contract and sought damages. West removed the case to federal court. Chodos amended his complaint to seek restitution on a quantum meruit basis and dropped the breach of contract claim. Thereafter, West filed a motion for summary judgment. The district court held that under the terms of the contract, West’s decision not to publish the treatise was within its discretion and granted West’s motion for summary judgment. Chodos appealed.

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Holding and Reasoning (Reinhardt, J.)

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