Shirley Maclaine Parker v. Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.

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Shirley Maclaine Parker v. Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Court Supreme Court of California
Citation 3 Cal. 3d 176
89 Cal. Rptr. 737
474 P.2d 689 (1970)
Date decided 1970

Facts

The plaintiff was an actress and was to play a role in defendant’s movie. The contract guaranteed the plaintiff $53,571 per week for 14 weeks commencing on May 23, 1966. Prior to the filming of the movie, defendant decided not to produce the movie. It notified the plaintiff of this, and offered “to avoid any damages” to her another role in a different movie, with 31 or 34 similar terms but varying in the others. The original role was to be in a western, while the new offer was for a role in a musical. Plaintiff was given one week to accept, which she did not.

Procedural History

Plaintiff sought compensation and the trial court ruled in her favor.

Issues

Whether after anticipatory repudiation to an original contract, the refusal by a party to accept a new contract with different terms is an unreasonable refusal to mitigate damages.

Holding

Judgment affirmed.

Judgment

Judgment affirmed.

Rule

The general measure of recovery by a wrongfully discharged employee is the amount of salary agreed upon for the period of service, less the amount which the employer affirmatively proves the employer has earned or with reasonable efforts might have earned from other employment.

Reasonableness is not an element of a wrongfully discharged employee’s option to reject, or fail to seek, different or inferior employment lest the possible earnings therefrom be charged against him in mitigation of damages.

Because the offer was both different and inferior, it was not her obligation to accept it.

Comments

Dissent: The issue is whether the offer was inferior, and this should be a fact determined by a jury. Noticing a difference between two films does not constitute a difference in the kind of employment. The question should not be whether differences exist, but whether these differences constitute a different kind of employment.