ABC v. Wolf

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ABC v. Wolf
Court New York Court of Appeals
Citation 52 N.Y.2d 394, 438 N.Y.S.2d 482, 420 N.E.2d 363
Date decided April 2, 1981


In February 1978, American Broadcasting Companies (ABC) (plaintiff) & sportscaster Warner Wolf (defendant) entered into an employment agreement. Their contract was scheduled to terminate on March 5th 1980. It included a good faith & 1st-refusal provision.

Wolf's negotiations with ABC must be exclusive for the 45 days from December 6th 1979 to January 19th 1980. After the negotiation period of the contract on March 5th 1980, ABC would have the right of first refusal before Wolf accepted any other employment offer.

Before March 5th 1980, Wolf began employment talks with CBS.

Date Event
January 19th 1980 Expiration of ABC's 1st refusal period
February 1st 1980 Wolf orally agrees to work for CBS.
February 4th 1980 (early) Wolf signs an employment agreement with CBS to be exclusive after March 6th
February 4th 1980 (later in day) Wolf submit resignation letter to leave ABC on March 5th 1980

Procedural History

ABC sued Wolf to seek specific enforcement of its right of 1st refusal & to enjoin (prohibit) Wolf from working with CBS.

The trial court ruled that equitable relief would be the wrong remedy. Wolf won in the trial court & Appellate Division.


May a personal service contract be specifically enforced for the duration of the contract?


Yes. A personal service contract may be specifically enforced for the duration of the contract in narrowly-tailored situations.



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