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Elvin Associates v. Franklin

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
735 F.Supp. 1177 (1990)


Facts

Elvin Associates (Elvin) (plaintiff) sought to produce a musical. Ashton Springer, Elvin’s principal, asked Aretha Franklin (defendant) to star in the musical. Franklin told Springer that she was interested and that he should contact her agents. Springer did so, and contract negotiations ensued. Ultimately, Franklin’s agent orally agreed to Springer’s final proposal. Franklin began participating in preparations for the musical, including agreeing to tentative rehearsal and performance dates. Throughout the process, Franklin committed to and expressed enthusiasm for the performance. To prepare for the show, Springer reserved rehearsal space, hired a director, hired a technical crew, and hired set, lighting, and costume designers. Springer was in contact with Franklin throughout this planning phase. When rehearsals began, Franklin did not show up. Ultimately, although the parties had finalized the terms of their contract, the contract language required Franklin’s signature, and Franklin had never signed. Springer suspended production of the musical, and Elvin sued Franklin seeking to recover based on promissory estoppel.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Knapp, J.)

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