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Pierce v. The Clarion Ledger

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Pierce sued The Clarion Ledger for breach of contract when a reporter published information without verification violating a promise.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    Moral obligations do not create express or implied contractual duties.

    Facts.

    Pierce, an officer for the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, arranged an airplane to be used by a Senator for personal use. The Clarion Ledger (Defendant) obtained this information and promised not to publish it until the information was verified. The Clarion Ledger published the information without verification and Pierce sued. The Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment.

    Issue.

    Whether moral obligations create express or implied contractual duties?

    Held.

    No. The motion for summary judgment is granted. The reporter’s promise to keep the information confidential did not create a legally binding contract because the promise was a moral obligation.

    Points of Law - for Law School Success

    We may consult a variety of sources in making an Erie-guess: dicta in Texas court decisions, the general rule on the issue, and the rules in other states that Texas might look to, as well as treatises and law journals.

    View Full Point of Law
    Discussion.

    There can be no breach of contract when a moral obligation exists because moral obligations do not create contractual duties.


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