Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. v. Barry Goldwater

532 F. Supp. 619 (1982)

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Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. v. Barry Goldwater

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
532 F. Supp. 619 (1982)

Facts

In 1977 Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. (Harcourt) (plaintiff) entered into a publishing contract with Senator Barry Goldwater (defendant) and writer Stephen Shadegg to publish Goldwater’s memoirs. Oscar and Lisa Collier were the literary agents who approached Harcourt about the book. Harcourt was excited about the concept but had reservations about allowing Shadegg to serve as the author for the project. Nevertheless, Harcourt entered into a contract with Goldwater and Shadegg providing that a manuscript “satisfactory to the publisher in form and content” be submitted by October 1, 1978. Harcourt gave Goldwater and Shadegg a $65,000 advance at the time the contract was signed. An additional $75,000 was payable on delivery, and an additional $60,000 was due when the book was published. Before Goldwater and Shadegg began working, Carol Hill, a Harcourt editor, offered her robust assistance with editing, and Goldwater welcomed her contribution. Goldwater and Shadegg began working, and after they had written seven chapters, they submitted the work to Hill in 1977 for feedback. However, Hill did not respond to offer Goldwater and Shadegg any ideas or suggestions for improvement. Instead, Hill expressed her negative impression of the work to agent Oscar Collier. Goldwater and Shadegg kept writing and delivered an additional 17 chapters, for a total of 24 chapters, by July 1978. Goldwater sent a letter to Hill with an offer to meet in person and a request for her honest feedback as quickly as possible so that the authors could factor her edits into the final manuscript in advance of the upcoming deadline. Again, Hill chose not to communicate with Goldwater or Shadegg, and instead she recommended to Oscar Collier that a different writer be found. When Collier refused, Hill told Collier that Harcourt would likely reject the book. Goldwater and Shadegg submitted the work on time, on September 29, 1978. Hill rejected the manuscript as unsatisfactory and insisted that the $65,000 advance be returned. Collier found another publisher, who provided common editorial suggestions that Shadegg implemented, and the memoirs were published with great success in 1979. Harcourt sued Goldwater for the $65,000 advance.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Griesa, J.)

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