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Lumley v. Wagner

Melissa A. Hale

ProfessorMelissa A. Hale

CaseCast "What you need to know"

CaseCast –  "What you need to know"

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Lumley v. Wagner
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    Brief Fact Summary.

    Johanna Wagner (defendant) agreed to sing exclusively for Benjamin Lumley’s (plaintiff) theatre. Later, Covent Garden a competitor convinced Wagner to break her contract with Lumley and sing for them. Lumley brought suit.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    Even where there is no satisfactory remedy at law, a court of equity will, for the most part, will not particularly implement a personal services contract.

    Facts.

    Johanna Wagner (defendant) contracted to sing solely for Benjamin Lumley's (plaintiff) theater for one season. Accordingly, Covent Garden, an opponent theater, persuaded Wagner to break her agreement with Lumley and sing for that theater instead. Lumley sued.

    Issue.

    May a court enforce a negative injunction on an individual, preventing her from accomplishing something she indirectly contracted not to do?

    Held.

    Yes. Even where there is no satisfactory remedy at law, a court of equity will, for the most part, will not particularly implement a personal services contract.

    Dissent.

    N/A

    Concurrence.

    N/A

    Discussion.

    Although an equity court won't particularly authorize a personal services contract, it might order the party breaching the personal services contract from giving her services to another party. In the present case, the court can't constrain Wagner to sing for Lumley. Nonetheless, the court establishes that it might enjoin Wagner from singing for another person, particularly Covent Garden. Although this injunction may indirectly prompt Wagner to sing for Lumley, it is not a direct court command and subsequently is allowed.


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