February 14, 2019

Dean Melanie Leslie was quoted in The Washington Post about the dispute between filmmaker Woody Allen and Amazon. Allen is suing Amazon, alleging that the company was illegally reneging on an agreement to release his new movie, “A Rainy Day in New York,” and backing out of a deal to finance three other pictures because of negative attention over an allegation that he molested his adopted daughter in 1992.

One potential defense, the article speculated, for Amazon is “frustration of purpose,” a doctrine that says a contract can be voided if the initial goal is no longer viable.

“’Frustration of purpose’ is a tough argument for Amazon to make because the allegations were already out there when they made the deal,” [she said], emphasizing that she was evaluating the question on legal, not moral, grounds. “It’s hard for the company to say they didn’t realize what would happen — all they could say is that ‘market forces changed.’”
“And,” she added, “that’s just saying you made a bad deal. It’s not grounds for invalidating a contract.”
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