Doubleday & Company, Inc. v. Tony Curtis

763 F.2d 495 (1985)

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Doubleday & Company, Inc. v. Tony Curtis

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
763 F.2d 495 (1985)

Facts

In 1976 film star Tony Curtis (defendant) signed a contract with Doubleday and Company, Inc. (Doubleday) (plaintiff) to write a novel entitled Kid Cody. Curtis’s contract was for two books and contained a standard satisfaction clause, which Curtis was easily able to honor regarding the first book, with extensive editorial work by a Doubleday editor, Larry Jordan. Because Kid Cody was such a success, Doubleday renegotiated Curtis’s contract and granted him a $50,000 advance, payable when the contract was signed, and an additional $50,000 when the second book, Starstruck, was delivered satisfactorily. Under the contract, Starstruck was due by October 1, 1978. Doubleday also sold the rights to publish Starstruck in paperback to another publisher for $200,000 conditioned on the book being published by December 1980. Unfortunately, Curtis did not meet his deadline and had only given Doubleday a portion of the manuscript by April 1980. Editor Adrian Zackheim was assigned to edit the manuscript. Zackheim made suggestions and spoke to Curtis occasionally, but Zackheim’s communication with Curtis was not as extensive as what Curtis had with his former editor, Jordan. Still, Zackheim made many offers of assistance that Curtis rejected. When Curtis submitted the completed manuscript in August 1981, Zackheim and his supervisor both felt the manuscript was so poor that it could not be published and no amount of editing would fix it. Zackheim contacted Curtis’s agent and recommended the novel be rewritten by a novel doctor; however, the agent disagreed. Doubleday rejected Starstruck, canceled Curtis’s contract in November 1981, and canceled its $200,000 deal with the paperback publisher. Doubleday also insisted that Curtis return the $50,000 advance payment. Curtis refused to return the money. Doubleday sued Curtis for the return of the payment. Curtis filed a counterclaim against Doubleday for the loss of the income he had expected to receive when Starstruck was published. A district court dismissed Curtis’s counterclaim, ruling that Doubleday had acted in good faith. The court also dismissed Doubleday’s claim, holding that Doubleday waived the right to seek return of the $50,000 advance.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kaufman, J.)

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