Detmers v. Costner

Civ. 09-60 (2011)

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Detmers v. Costner

South Dakota Circuit Court
Civ. 09-60 (2011)

SC

Facts

Kevin Costner (defendant) sought to build a resort in South Dakota. Costner hired Peggy Detmers (plaintiff) to sculpt several bronze sculptures of bison to be displayed at the entrance to the resort. After delays in the construction of the resort, Detmers wondered whether it would ever be built. Because of these concerns, Detmers stopped working on the sculptures. In 2000 the parties agreed to a new contract under which Detmers agreed to complete the sculptures. As part of the new agreement, Costner promised that if the resort was not completed within 10 years “or the sculptures [were] not agreeably displayed elsewhere,” he would give Detmers 50 percent of the profits realized from a sale of the sculptures. Ultimately, Costner built Tatanka, a visitor center and museum on part of the land originally planned for the resort. Costner decided to display the bronze sculptures at Tatanka. Detmers was involved in this decision and helped to plan the exact placement of the sculptures. Tatanka opened in 2003. Because the resort remained unbuilt, Detmers sued Costner for breach of contract, seeking specific performance, including a sale of the sculptures. Among other things, Detmers claimed that because Tatanka was on the property intended for the resort, the sculptures had not been placed elsewhere under the terms of the parties’ 2000 agreement. Detmers testified that she did not tell Costner that she ever disagreed with displaying the sculptures at Tatanka.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Macy, J.)

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