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Passante v. McWilliam

California Court of Appeal
62 Cal. Rptr. 2d 298 (1997)


Facts

The Upper Deck Company (defendant) was a trading-card company that lacked the funding it needed for special paper on which to print certain cards. If the company did not come up with the money by an impending deadline, it likely would have lost its Major League Baseball license. Anthony Passante (plaintiff), an attorney for Upper Deck, came up with the money from a friend who loaned it to the company. In return for finding the funds, the company’s board of directors agreed that it would provide Passante with 3 percent of the company’s stock. Passante did not advise Upper Deck that it should obtain independent counsel to negotiate that stock payment. Soon after the cards were first printed, the company’s stock soared. The company ultimately broke its promise and did not give Passante the stock. Passante sued Upper Deck for breach of contract. The jury awarded Passante $33 million, the value of 3 percent of stock at the time of the verdict. The trial judge, however, granted Upper Deck a judgment notwithstanding the verdict. Passante appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Sills, J.)

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