Summary of Duff v. Russell
Plaintiff: Duff (a theatrical and operatic manager)
Defendant: Russell (a singer and actress)
Facts: The defendant contracted to sing for the plaintiff during the seasons of 1887-1888 and 1888-1889. Each season was to commence in the month of October or November of each year and to last until May or June of the following year. On January 7, 1889, the defendant refused to perform in the plaintiff’s opera and agreed to perform at the Casino, a rival of and competitor with the plaintiff. Plaintiff sustained irreparable damages and the extent of such damages cannot be accurately measured.
Issue: Whether the plaintiff can enforce the injunction of restrain the defendant from singing and performing in Casino?
1) The defendant argues that there is no negative stipulation in the contract by which the defendant agreed not to appear elsewhere. The court states that court should look to the substance of the contract instead of the form. And 7 performances per week make it impossible to let the defendant to perform elsewhere without violating the contract.
2) It is also inequitable of the contract to plaintiff because the defendant can terminate the season of the performance by two weeks’ notice while the plaintiff have no right to discharge the defendant on two weeks’ notice. And the plaintiff notified the defendant the second season would not close before the middle of May, or June 1, 1889.
3) The defendant’s argument for unhealthful tights as an excuse of violation of the contract is untenable. The evidences show that it is the defendant that intended to contract Mr. Aronson, the manager of the Casino, to perform in the Casino and purposed to breach the contract with the plaintiff.
Holding: The court entitled plaintiff the judgment, with costs.