The Ballad of Tina Tooner
Tina Tooner was a great singer. In fact, Tina was so spectacular that she had built her reputation by crooning packed stadiums, singing her love for her boyfriend Ike. Soon, the couple had amassed a large amount of money and Tina decided it was time to quit show-business. Tina and Ike wanted to move to the State of Confusion.
But first, they needed a house they could call a home. Ergo, Tina called up Jim’s General Contracting:
Jim: “Jim’s General Contracting, this is Jim Halpert, how can I help you?”
Tina: “And I will always love houses, will always love houses. Houses.”
Jim: “Can I help you, ma’am?”
Tina: “Yes, I need you to build me a house. I own a plot of land at 475 Private Dancer Lane, right here in town.”
Jim: “I think we can help you out with that [. . .]”
Two weeks later, after many face-to-face meetings, it was decided the house would be built on Tina’s land. The contract stated: “Jim’s General Contracting Service will build one house for Tina Tooner on the lot located at 475 Private Dance Road. Construction is to begin January 1, 2012, and will be completed by June 1, 2012. In return for the completion of the house, built to the specifications to be decided upon at a later time, Tina Tooner will pay Jim Halpert of Jim’s General Contracting Service $500,000.00.” The contract was signed by both Jim Halpert and Tina Tooner.
Pam at School
It turns out Jim Halpert wanted to put his daughter, Pam Halpert, through a prestigious design school in New York. She had always wanted to be a great artist, and Jim continually supported her endeavors.
So after construction had begun, Jim called up Tina Tooner with the following request: “I want to send my daughter to art school in New York, but it will be expensive. Pam does not know about this, but rather than paying me, please pay any money directly to my daughter, Pam.”
Tina simply stated: “Get the job done to me and Ike’s satisfaction and we’ll see.”
Jim at Work
Come February 1, 2012, the house was still being constructed. “What was I thinking?” thought Jim. “From the gold-plated toilet seats to the waterfall, I do not have the skills needed to do this job!”
Thus, Jim hired an outside contracting firm to take over the responsibilities for building Tina’s house. The outside firm was “Dwight General Contracting.”
Jim and Dwight had a formal contract where Dwight would complete the house, according to the terms of the contract, and Jim would pay Dwight $400,000.00 upon completion of the home.
Deep down inside, Jim always had a feeling he would have to hire outside help (even when he was signing the contract with Tina Tooner).
Tina at Home
It turns out Tina had very specific demands for the home. From the gold-plated toilet seats to the waterfall (supra), she was particular about her new home. In fact, one of the specifications was that only copper pipes were to be installed throughout the house.
Dwight, however, thought Ms. Tooner was simply being picky. Thus, he installed aluminum pipes throughout the home, rather than copper pipes. “She will never notice,” he said. “Besides, the standard these days is to install aluminum pipes, not copper.”
What’s Love Got to Do With It?
It was the morning of June 5, 2012, and Dwight was putting the final touches on Ms. Tooner’s home. Suddenly, Tina drove up the driveway wildly, with Ike in the front seat. Dwight approached Ms. Tooner, keys in hand.
Dwight: “Here are your keys, Ms. Tooner. Enjoy your new house!”
Tina: “Ha! You didn’t get done in time, sucka! I ain’t paying a dime for this house! Who are you anyway?”
Ms. Tina Tooner then sped off in her red Pontiac Solstice, glad that she received a house for free.
It was only later that afternoon that Ms. Tooner found out that the house had not been equipped to her specifications (i.e. the aluminum pipes). Because of this defect, she refuses to even live on Private Dancer Lane. Additionally, Tina has refused to answer phone calls from Jim Halpert. Ike, meanwhile, had no problem with the home. Pam had to forego school for another year and pay another year’s rent to her landlord, Meredith.
Jim has not been paid.
Dwight has not been paid.
Pam has not paid.
Ike has no place to live.
Tina has not been heard from in days.
Yup, it’s your job to clean up this contractual food-fight.
You are to give a detailed analysis of the above situation. Who should sue? Why? Who should be sued? Why? Who will win? Who will lose? Does this person even have a right to enforce the contract? What specific doctrines will come into play? What formula will you use to calculate damages, if there are any damages? Is there any more information that would be helpful in your assessment of the contractual relationships?
I also want to see hearty discussion with others. Is there something they could have made clearer? Is there something that they missed? Is there a better way you could help your colleague achieve the right result?