Freeman & Mills, Inc. v. Belcher Oil Company
Supreme Court of California
900 P.2d 669 (Cal. 1995)
Belcher Oil Company (Belcher) (defendant) hired the law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius (Morgan) to defend it in a lawsuit. Belcher and Morgan entered into a contract providing that Belcher would pay for costs incurred by Morgan on its behalf in the suit, including accountants’ fees. In turn, Morgan hired Freeman & Mills, Inc. (Freeman and Mills) (plaintiff) to provide accounting services on Belcher’s behalf. Subsequently, Belcher’s new general counsel became dissatisfied with Morgan’s work and fired the firm and told it to have Freeman and Mills stop working on the suit. Freeman and Mills stopped working and sent a bill to both Morgan and Belcher that went unpaid. Belcher claimed that it had not been consulted by Morgan on the extent of Freeman and Mills’s work and therefore Freeman and Mills should look to Morgan to obtain its compensation. Ultimately, Freeman and Mills brought suit against Belcher for bad faith denial of the contract between Belcher and Morgan. The trial court found that Belcher did deny the contract in bad faith and ruled in favor of Freeman and Mills. The court of appeal reversed. The Supreme Court of California granted review to analyze its confusing and often criticized holding in Seaman’s Direct Buying Service Center, Inc. v. Standard Oil Co. (1984), which established the tort of bad faith denial of a contract.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Lucas, C.J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.
Here's why 166,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 13,800 briefs, keyed to 187 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.