Quimbee logo
DMCA.com Protection Status
From our private database of 16,500+ case briefs...

Wyler Summit Partnership v. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
135 F.3d 658 (1998)


Facts

William Wyler was the director of the hit film Ben Hur. MGM was the production company for the film. In 1958, Wyler signed an agreement with MGM stating that, in addition to a one-time base payment, Wyler would be paid a percentage compensation based on the film’s receipts. The contract provided that this percentage compensation would be paid in annual installments, and each installment was not to exceed $50,000. This provision was inserted solely at Wyler’s request to avoid income tax liability. Because of the film’s success, Wyler and his heirs (plaintiffs) earned $3.3 million in total percentage compensation. Wyler and his heirs had been paid $1.8 million. Turner (defendant) was MGM’s successor. Turner retained the remaining $1.5 million as a result of the payment plan. Turner did not argue that Wyler’s heirs didn’t deserve the money. Turner claimed only that the money could be paid only in annual installments of $50,000, as per the agreement. Wyler’s heirs argued that they were being deprived of the economic benefit of the percentage compensation by the operation of the contract’s installment payment provision. The heirs argued that Turner was earning a significant amount of interest income on the deferred compensation. The heirs also argued that the original parties to the contract never contemplated that the installment provision would work to deprive Wyler or his heirs of that benefit. Finally, the heirs claimed that Turner unlawfully rejected the heirs’ proposal to waive the provision. The heirs thus brought suit against Turner, claiming unjust enrichment, breach of contract, and breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing. Turner filed a motion to dismiss. The trial judge granted Turner’s motion, holding that (1) there must be an express provision in the contract allowing parties to waive their obligations and (2) there was nothing in the contract to suggest that the percentage compensation provision was included solely for the benefit of Wyler; in fact, the court held, the provision also benefits Turner by allowing Turner to limit Wyler’s annual payment. The heirs appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Stagg, C.J.)

Dissent (Tashima, J.)

What to do next…

  1. 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.

  2. 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 409,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:

  • Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 16,500 briefs, keyed to 223 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.

Questions & Answers


Have a question about this case?

Sign up for a free 7-day trial and ask it

Sign up for a FREE 7-day trial