Law School Case Brief
Kolodziej v. Mason - 996 F. Supp. 2d 1237 (M.D. Fla. 2014)
The law is well settled that before a reward is entitled to be collected, an offeree must have knowledge of the existence of the offer of reward.
Mason was one of the attorneys who represented a criminal defendant, Serrano, who was accused of murdering four people in central Florida. The trial attracted heavy media interest and, as a consequence, during the trial, NBC News conducted an interview with Mason regarding the case. During that interview, Mason talked about certain aspects of the prosecution's theory that seemed highly implausible to him. The prosecution's theory believed that Serrano's purported travel from Atlanta back to a local hotel in central Florida. Mason made a comment that it was "not possible" for someone to accomplish this trip in the allotted 28 minutes. He also had made a comment that "he would pay them a million dollars if they can do it." Serrano was convicted of the murders and sentenced to death. Kolodziej, while a student at the South Texas College of Law, followed the Serrano trial on television. After he heard and saw parts of the Dateline Broadcast, Kolodziej studied the Edited Dateline Transcript of Mason's interview and read news articles concerning the Serrano case, he interpreted it as a serious challenge to "make it off the plane and back to the hotel within 28 minutes" for $1 million. Kolodziej then flew from Tampa to the Atlanta Airport on Delta flight, which landed at 8:59 p.m. and arrived at the gate at 9:06 p.m. Kolodziej's recording time totaled 19 minutes. Accordingly, Kolodziej sent a letter to Mason at the Mason Law Firm informing Mason that he had successfully performed the "challenge" and requesting what he believed was the promised payment in the amount of $1 million. Mason rejected the demand, explaining in the letter that the comments he made in the interview were merely intended to be an illustration of "what could and could not be done with respect to Serrano's alibi, and how serious the reasonable doubt was. Believing he was entitled to $1 million, Kolodziej filed a lawsuit against Mason for breach of a unilateral contract when Mason refused to pay Kolodziej. Mason filed a motion for summary judgment.
Was a unilateral contract formed between Defendant attorneys and Plaintiff Kolodziej?
The Court granted Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment holding that no genuine issues of material fact existed for determination by a jury and that the Defendants are entitled to judgment in their favor as a matter of law. No unilateral contract formed between Defendants and Kolodziej under the circumstances of the case because Mason was not even aware that the television had edited the interview to make it seem like so.
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