I’ve posted on a lawsuit out of Texas, in which a law student plaintiff sued a lawyer defendant for failing to live up to a “promise” to pay $1,000,000 to any television viewer who could prove him wrong about his theory of a case. I opined the case was a classic example of puffery, unlikely to reach the merits on that ground. I challenged readers to prove me wrong.
Louis K. Bonham, counsel to the defendant, has done so. He reports that the case has now been dismissed – but for want of personal jurisdiction. According to the docket, Judge Miller’s decision issued on October 23. It rests on the observation that the only contact that the defendant had with Texas was the airing of a television broadcast: personal jurisdiction on these grounds would make him subject to national jurisdiction where it wasn’t otherwise anticipated.
Incidentally, the underlying motion documents suggest that plaintiff’s claim was even weaker on the merits than I’d argued, as the unedited transcript of of the boast is different than the version in the complaint. Here’s what plaintiff asserted was said:
NBC’s Ann Curry asked whether there was enough time for [Mason's client] to commit [a crime]. An unidentified person said, “The defense says no.”
“I challenge anybody to show me,” Mason said. “I’ll pay them a million dollars if they can do it.”
But here’s what was actually said:
… And from there to be on the videotape in 28 minutes. Not possible. Not possible. I challenge anybody to show me, and guess what? Did they bring in any evidence to say that somebody made that route, did so? State’s burden of proof. If they can do it, I’ll challenge ‘em. I’ll pay them a million dollars if they can do it.
NBC Transcript, p. 3
This kind of qualifying language makes it even more obvious that the statement was a mere puff. Congrats to Mr. Bonham on his win!