Why Donald Trump Is Wrong (This Time)

Donald Trump's lawyer should be quite pleased with himself, because most of us will never get the chance to say this kind of thing, no matter how long we practice law:

Attached hereto is a copy of Mr. Trump's birth certificate, demonstrating that he is the son of Fred Trump, not an orangutan.

As you've probably heard, Trump the Younger is mad at Bill Maher because Maher made fun of him on the Jay Leno show. Noting Trump's offer to give $5 million to charity if President Obama would release certain documents, Maher wondered why Trump wasn't being just as transparent. Specifically, why hadn't he ever released his own birth certificate to the public? What was he trying to hide? Maher then offered to pay Trump $5 million if Trump could prove he was not descended from an orangutan. (That particular speculation was linked to the color of Trump's hair, he said.)

O-TRUMP-570Never one to back down from a fight, no matter how stupid, Trump said he was taking Maher up on his offer. He sent Maher a copy of his birth certificate (right), accompanied by the lawyer's letter quoted above, and later sued when Maher did not pay up. "He made an absolute offer. I made an absolute acceptance," Trump opined. "I showed him documentation, and he owes me $5 million, which I'm going to give to charities."

Like so much of what the Trumpster says, this is wrong.

The Hollywood Reporter has a good analysis of why it's wrong. Basically, Maher didn't make an "absolute offer." He made a joke, and so there was nothing for Trump to accept. Of course, theoretically anybody who wanted to get out of a contract could say he was "only joking" when he made the offer, so the rule is that it's considered an offer if an "objective, reasonable person" would have viewed the statement as an offer. If so, then someone can accept it and form a contract.

Probably the best-known case on this is Leonard v. PepsiCo, in which a court rejected a high-school student's claim that Pepsi owed him a fighter jet.

Lawyer Analyzes Hobbit’s Contract

If you missed it, James Daily of Law and the Multiverse did a great analysis of the contract Bilbo Baggins signs in The Hobbit. More specifically, he's analyzing the much more elaborate one they came up with for the movie. The contract…

There She Blows! ‘Tis the Contract for Moby Dick!

Agreement made between Harper and Brothers of the city of New York, Publishers, of the one part and Herman Melville of Pittsfield Massachusets [sic] of the other part, witnesseth— That the said Harper and Brothers have agreed to publish and…

The Two-Million-Dollar Moon

I believe it was Confucius who said: He who would moon a superior should first consider whether his profit-sharing plan has vested, but whoever said it, those were words of wisdom. The plaintiff in Selch v. Columbia Management ignored them in…

Billion-Year Contracts and Musical Chairs

Ironically, Scientologists declare that they are "of sound mind" when they sign this contract agreeing to commit to the group's "Sea Organization" for the next one billion years. According to this new article in the New Yorker, they also do stuff…

Two Ways to Get the President’s Attention

Author's Note: Alternative titles you may prefer, depending on your political persuasion: Somebody Finally Throws the Book at Obama or Public Still Eager to Donate to Democrats This blog makes an effort to be non-partisan, so please select from the…