Parker v. 20th Century Fox Film Corp.
89 Cal.Rptr. 737, 474 P.2d 689 (Cal. 1970)

  • An actress named MacLaine signed a contract to be in a musical in exchange for $750k.
  • The studio decided not to make the movie.
    • The studio offered MacLaine a different movie at the same salary.
  • MacLaine felt the job offers were not equivalent, and sued for breach of contract.
  • The Trial Court awarded MacLaine $750k. The studio appealed.
    • The parties agreed that the studio breached the contract, it was simply a question of damages.
    • The Trial Court decided that the jobs were not equivalent and awarded MacLaine the entire salary ($750k).
    • The studio argued that when one party breaches a contract, the other party is required to attempt to cover. In this case that meant that the employee has to make reasonable efforts to find new work. Since MacLaine turned down the second movie, she did not make reasonable efforts and should not receive damages.
  • The Appellate Court affirmed.
    • The Appellate Court found that MacLaine had made reasonable efforts to find new work.
  • There was a lot of debate on whether or not the second movie was equivalent, and if so, whether not taking the job means that reasonable efforts were not taken.
    • The job was for the same salary, and possibly comparable. The Court found that they weren’t since the movie genre was different and the location was different. The dissent argued that although the movies were different, the job was the same.
      • Turning down a job because it is trivially different is generally not considered enough to meet the reasonable efforts threshold, since no two jobs are exactly the same.