Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
A verdict should be interpreted to uphold it and give it the effect intended by the jury, as well as one consistent with the law and the evidence. However, reversal is required when a verdict is hopelessly ambiguous or contains an incorrect statement of the law which probably confused and misled the jury. The result of an ambiguous jury verdict as to liability is a failure of the jury to make a finding on a critical issue.
Plaintiff Main Line Pictures Inc. sent a copy of the screenplay to the defendant Kim Basinger. The defendant was a well-known actress, having starred in many movies. Defendant agreed to act in the film, and the payment of her services was made to the defendant-agent, Mighty Wind, a loan-out corporation to which the defendant artist loaned her acting services. When the defendant artist changed her agent to International Creative Management, she was advised not to do the film. Defendant then had some reservations about the film which the director attempted to accommodate by modifying the script. However, the Acting Service Agreement and the Producer’s Standard Terms and Conditions drafted by the plaintiff’s counsel as well as the defendants’ attorneys described the plaintiff as the producer and the defendants as lender and artist. The Producer's Standard Terms and Conditions, on the other, provided that the defendant-agent as employer agreed to loan out the services of the defendant artist to the plaintiff. It provided, among other things, that plaintiff was entitled to seek equitable relief if the artist breached and the employer was to indemnify the producer if the artist made any compensation claim. When the plaintiff learned that the defendant artist was not going to act in the film, it filed a complaint against the defendants alleging that the defendants breached an oral and written contract to provide for the defendant’s acting services. The trial court entered judgment against the defendants to which they appealed.
Did the jury err in finding that the defendants breached the contract with the plaintiff?
The court held that although defendant-artist’s services were key to the contract, the issue was the party or parties responsible if she failed to perform. The court further held that if the contract was only with the defendant-agent, then only the defendant-agent can be liable for a breach of the contract. The court ruled that it cannot ascertain from the record whether the jury found that defendant-artist entered into the agreement, the defendant-agent entered into the contract, or they both entered into the contract. Thus, the court concluded that the jury verdicts failed to render a finding on a key factual issue. The court then reversed the judgment.