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CNA & American Casualty v. Arlyn Phoenix

District Court of Appeal of Florida
678 So. 2d 378 (1996)


River Phoenix entered into contracts to perform in two films. These contracts included an “actor loanout agreement” between both of the films’ production companies and Jude Nile, a company owned by River and his mother, Arlyn Phoenix. This agreement provided that River would “…not do anything which would deprive the parties to the agreement of its benefits.” Before River could complete his work in these two films he died of a drug overdose. CNA and American Casualty (the insurance companies) (plaintiffs) had written insurance policies covering River’s work under the two contracts. The insurance companies paid the policyholders and then filed subrogation claims against Arlyn Phoenix, as executor of the estate (the estate) (defendant). The estate moved to dismiss, arguing that there was no cause of action under the personal services contract at issue because it was impossible to perform due to a party’s death. The trial court granted the motion. The insurance companies appealed to the District Court of Appeal of Florida.

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