Business Law – Law Student Cannot Enforce Attorney’s Million-Dollar Challenge

For the last post of the year, we go to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, where that court recently ruled that law student Dustin Kolodziej cannot enforce attorney James Mason’s million-dollar challenge that his criminal defense client could not travel from the Atlanta airport to a nearby La Qunita hotel within 28 minutes (click here for the court’s opinion).

After Mason’s client was convicted of quadruple murder, Mason was interviewed on NBC and challenged anybody to show him that his client could have traveled from the Atlanta airport to a certain nearby La Quinta hotel within 28 minutes, which Mason argued would have to have occurred in order for his client to commit the murders.

Kolodziej, taking the challenge literally, recorded himself traveling from the Atlanta airport to the La Qunita hotel within 28 minutes.  When Kolodziej informed Mason of his feat and sought to cash in his million dollars, Mason for some reason refused.  Kolodziej then sued Mason.  Mason got the case dismissed at the district court, which led to this appeal to the 11th Circuit.

The 11th Circuit ruled that no contract was formed between Mason and Kolodziej.  If a contract existed, it would have been an oral unilateral contract.  All contracts, including oral unilateral contracts, require an offer; an acceptance; consideration; and mutual assent to enter into a contract.

In this case, the court found that no reasonable person would have understood Mason’s challenge to be a serious offer of a contract and the challenge should have been interpreted as a rhetorical expression.  The court noted there was no direct contact between Mason and Kolodziej up until the point Kolodziej made his demand.  Mason never took any action to indicate that he intended the offer to be serious such as providing specifics of what it would take to meet the challenge or setting money aside in case the challenge was met.  Kolodziej never made any effort to contact Mason to confirm the existence of the offer, to ensure the offer was still valid, or to confirm the details and terms of the challenge.  Thus, the 11th Circuit ruled the district court was correct in ruling in favor of Mason and against Kolodziej.

For more on this story, see these articles from The Hollywood Reporter and Courthouse News Service.


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