Law School Case Brief
Kolodziej v. Mason - 996 F. Supp. 2d 1237 (M.D. Fla. 2014)
Whereas a bilateral contract is one in which there is an exchange of promises between two parties to the contract, a unilateral contract is an exchange of a promise for an act or forbearance. Mutual assent, or agreement, between the parties is necessary for the formation of any contract.
Dustin Kolodziej saw on national television an edited version of the highly publicized interview of lawyer James Cheney Mason regarding his client Serrano, who was accused of murdering several individuals. The edited interview made it look like Mason seriously extended a "million-dollar challenge" to disprove their defense that it was physically impossible for Serrano to be at the scene of the crime within 28 minutes using the route the accused took. Kolodziej perceived this as an offer to form a unilateral contract, which he accepted by performing the challenge. Kolodziej retraced the alleged route of Serrano and he accomplished it within 28 minutes. Kolodziej sent a recording of his journey to Mason and then demanded payment. When Mason refused, Kolodziej filed an action for breach of contract. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Mason.
Was a unilateral contract formed between Mason and Kolodziej?
In this breach of contract action, the Court held that neither the content of Mason’s statements, nor the circumstances in which he made them, nor the conduct of the parties reflected the assent necessary to establish an actionable offer. The "spoken words" of Mason’s purported challenge did not indicate a willingness to enter into a contract where the exaggerated amount of "a million dollars" indicated that this was hyperbole. None of Mason’s surrounding commentary—either in the unedited original interview or in the edited television broadcast—gave the slightest indication that his statement was anything other than a figure of speech.
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