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Law School Case Brief

Total Econ. Athletic Mgmt. of Am. v. Pickens - 898 S.W.2d 98 (Mo. Ct. App. 1995)

Rule:

When the principal wrongly terminates an agency agreement, the agent may either sue in quantum meruit for the commissions due or sue for breach of contract for the commissions that would have been earned under the agreement. Breach of contract and quantum meruit represent two separate causes of action that have different measures of damages. The verdict director and the corresponding damage instruction must relate to the same cause of action. Consequently, submission of a breach of contract verdict director and a quantum meruit damage instruction would result in prejudicial error.

Facts:

Bruce Evon Pickens and Total Economic Athletic Management of America, Inc., d/b/a Team America, entered into a representation agreement, whereby Team America was to act as Pickens’ contract advisor in negotiating his National Football League player contract. However, before negotiations, Pickens engaged another contract advisor who actually negotiated the NFL player contract. Consequently, Team America sued Pickens for breach of contract. The trial court awarded Team America damages in the amount of $20,000.00. Both parties appealed, with Team America contending that the damage award was against the weight of evidence, while Pickens argued that the trial court erred in giving and refusing instructions.

Issue:

Did the trial court err in ruling in favor of Team America, and granting the amount of $20,000.00 as damages?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The court affirmed the judgment of the trial court. The court held that jury instructions given by the trial court stating that “the jury should reach a verdict in favor of the Team America if it believed that the parties agreed that the agent would serve as Picken’s advisor and the player failed to perform his agreement” were not prejudicial or constitute plain error. The court also stated that the trial court correctly rejected the Pickens’ affirmative converse instructions and the jury accurately calculated damages on a breach of contractor theory, rather than a quantum meruit theory. Finally, the court concluded that the amount of damages awarded to the agent was not too low and fell within the range of the evidence.

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