Lady Duff Gordon's Day in Court


Eric S. Silvia

Hi All,

While reading my contracts book, I came across a very interesting case with Lady Duff Gordon, as defendant!

Not sure if you are all familiar, but apparently Lucy had contracted with a man by the name of Otis Wood and that for her granting him exclusive rights to endorse her designs with her name and to market and sell all her designs, Lucy and Wood would split the profits made by Wood, in half. However, Lucy placed her endorsement on fabrics and dresses without Wood's knowledge and in violation of the contract. Lucy claimed that the contract agreement lacked the elements of a true contract, and she claimed Wood was not entitled to any sort of damages.

The New York Court of Appeals held that although the written contract did not state that Wood promised to use resonable efforts to place Lucy's endorsements and market her designs, it was implied. Wood was entitled to damages as a result of her breach.

It was and still remains a popular case found in Contract casebooks across the country, under the notion of consideration.

If anyone is interested in reading the case in full, here is the legal citation: 222 N.Y. 88, 118 N.E. 214, N.Y., Dec 04, 1917