December 7, 2019

Commonwealth v. Peaslee

Commonwealth v. Peaslee

FACTS: D had arranged combustibles in a bldg. such that they were ready to be lighted. The D offered to pay a young man to carry out the plan, but as the young man drove towards the building he changed his mind and drove away.

HISTORY: Indictment for an attempt to burn bldg.

ISSUE: Were the acts near enough to the accomplishment of the substantive offense to be punishable?


RATIONALE: Attempt "suggests an act seemingly sufficient to accomplish the end." Here the preparation might not be an attempt b/c there was farther to go. But intent was still there.

DISPOSITION: Conviction reversed on grounds indictment failed to allege solicitation of the employee not b/c of lack of evidence of attempt.

People v. Kraft

People v. Kraft

FACTS: Mr. and Mrs. Grossi were driving and when they attempted to pass D's truck D accelerated and forced them off the rod. Later, Grossi saw D and his truck, pulled over to say something and D opened fire. He shot again as they drove away and also at police who subsequently chased him. D finally surrendered after being wounded in the face and neck.

HISTORY: Is D guilty if he never intended to kill and therefore lacked the required mental state for attempted murder?


RATIONALE: There exists a discrepancy between the mental state required for attempt and that required for murder. It is wrong to say that knowledge of the action will create a high probability that death will occurr, is not the same as specific intent.

DISPOSITION: Reversed and remanded.

Klein v. Pepsico

Klein v. Pepsico
845 F.2d 76 (1988)
United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

Facts: Pepsico entered into a contract with Universal Jet Sales (UJS) to sell them a plane which was to be resold to Klein. Klein was allowed to inspect the aircraft and to put down a deposit on the plane. The parties also negotiated on the price. At the last moment Pepsico decided to keep the plane and took it off the market.

Procedural History: District Court ordered fulfillment of the contract.


1) Did a contract exist?

2) Did Klein lose money on the expectation of a possible resale of the plane?


1) Yes

2) No


1) Pepsico made a number of communications regarding the sale of the plane and also agreed to fix the plane in order to allow it to be sold. 

2) The aircraft was not unique and Klein was offered similar planes by UJS to make up for the one Pepsico refused to sell.

Disposition: Affirmed in part, reversed, and remanded in part.

Kirksey v. Kirksey

Kirksey v. Kirksey
8 Ala. 131 (1845)
Supreme Court of Alabama

FACTS: A woman was offered a house on some land owned by her deceased husband's brother. The brother made the offer in a letter. After she moved and had llived there for two years he moved her to another house in the woods and then required her to leave shortly after that.

HISTORY: Verdict fot the plaintiff for $200.

ISSUE: Was the promise a mere gratuity?


RATIONALE: There can be no action on something which is not a contract. It was a gift and nothing was bargained for.


Kendall v. Ernst Pestana, Inc.

Kendall v. Ernst Pestana, Inc.
40 Cal. 3d 488, 709 P.2d 837, 220 Cal.Rptr. 818 (1985)
Supreme Court of California

FACTS: Plaintiffs are trying to lease a business site from Bixler. Bixler leased the property from the defendants who got it under assignment from the original owners the Perlitches. The defendant refused to sign the lease unless rent was increased among other things.

HISTORY: On appeal from an order sustaining a demurrer w/o leave to amend.

ISSUE: Is the refusal an unlawful restraint on the freedom of alienation?


RATIONALE: In the past most leases contained a clause giving the lessor the right to refuse arbitrarily. This was the majority rule. Now, more jurisdictions are saying that "consent may be withheld only where the lessor has a commercial reasonable objection to the assignments. change has come from 1) leases and their nature as conveyances 2) nature of lease as a contract.

Majority rule:

1) conveyance is real property w/ lessor having exercised a personal choice 

2) approval clause is an unambiguous reservation of absolute discretion of the lessor over assignments of the lease 

3) doctrine of stare decisis

4) lessor has right to increased value of property

DISPOSITION: Order sustaining the demurrer is reversed.

December 4, 2019

Keeble v. Hickeringill

Keeble v. Hickeringill

11 East 574, 103 Eng. Rep. 1127,
11 Mod. 74, 130 (as Keble v. Hickringill),
3 Salk. 9 (as Keeble v. Hickeringhall) (1707)
Queen's Bench

Facts: Plaintiff owned a piece of land which had a duck pond on it. The plaintiff would trap the ducks as his trade. The defendant discharged 6 guns on November 8th which scared away the ducks. The defendant repeated this action again on November 11th and 12th.

Procedural History: Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff.

Issue: Are ducks residing in a pond property of the plaintiff?

Holding: Yes

Rationale: The plaintiff used the ducks as his trade. The defendant is liable because his action hindered the trade of the plaintiff. The plaintiff had used the property to lure ducks there.

Disposition: Action brought to recover for the disturbance, not for the loss of the ducks.

Interesting Dicta: "He that hinders another in his trade or livelihood is liable to an action for so hindering him..."

February 19, 2016

Jones v. United States

Jones v. United States
308 F.2d 307 (1967)
United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

Facts: Jones lived in same house as a 10 month old baby, Anthony Lee Green.  There is conflicting evidence of how long Green (mother) lived in the house with Jones and if Jones was paid to take care of the baby.  Jones had food and the baby died of malnutrition.

History: Trail court found him guilty.

Issue: Was jury instructed to find legal duty?
Holding: No

Rationale: To find Jones guilty it is required that it be determined that he had a legal duty by contract of voluntary assumption to care for the baby.
Disposition: Reversed and remanded.