Post-Divorce Agreement about a...Parrot?

I recently came across an article about a tweet from an attorney:

Just settled a divorce over visitation of a parrot. Neither may teach it negative phrases about the other. I went to law school for this.

— Michael Adler (@madler9000) November 14, 2016.

At first glance, this statement may be seen as funny or even sad. Some readers may focus on the apparent pettiness of the divorce clients and their fighting over every last crumb.

An entirely different lesson, however, can also be gleaned. In this case, the divorcing couple identified a problem: Don't train the parrot to say mean things about the other ex-spouse. Maybe this couple had a history of teaching the parrot to mock people that the couple didn't care for? Maybe they were concerned that once separated, their parrot would be used to verbally attack the other spouse? Whatever the reason was, the divorcing couple identified an issue and seemingly communicated it to Mr. Adler.

This tweet illustrates the importance of issue spotting – whether in business, a divorce, estate planning, or litigation. Mr. Adler used his best efforts to resolve one of his client's concerns: avoiding continuous post-divorce litigation over the parrot. Avoiding future issues is a noble pursuit and an integral part of the attorney-client relationship. For this divorcing couple's sake, I hope that the written compromise is indeed sufficient.

On another note, since the tweet was published on November 14th, Mr. Adler's story continued to circulate. Adding a somewhat ironic twist and underscoring the unlimited depth of Twitter research, an astute follower noted that Mr. Adler's tweet is remarkably similar to:

Just settled a divorce over Parrot custody/visitation. Neither may teach it negative phrases abt the other.

I went to law school for this.

— Lady Lawya (@Parkerlawyer) September 15, 2016.

It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out. Does "Lady Lawya" have a case against Mr. Adler? Or, are there a slew of parrot divorce cases out there as a recent article questions?

In any event, the fundamental lesson doesn't change: Identify issues and be cognizant of addressing those issues in writing.

Performance Following Purchase Orders can be Binding

The importance of understanding written terms and conditions and having written contracts cannot be stressed enough. The recent case of Aqua-Chem, Inc. v. D&H Machine Service, Inc., highlights these points.

Aqua-Chem owned large coolers that were to be installed on U.S. Navy destroyers. Aqua-Chem needed the coolers machined, and subsequently hired D&H to perform the machining. D&H incorrectly machined the coolers, damaging them. Aqua-Chem had to replace the coolers at an additional cost of approximately $191,000. Aqua-Chem sued D&H and prevailed following a bench trial.

Prior to D&H machining the coolers, Aqua-Chem sent purchase orders to D&H which specifically stated, among other conditions, that: 1) the written purchase orders controlled over all other documents and oral statements, and 2) performing the machining services constituted acceptance of the purchase orders in their entirety. D&H never signed the purchase orders, but did machine the coolers and returned them to Aqua-Chem.

D&H argued that it orally rejected the purchase orders and thus, did not perform the machining subject to the unilaterally imposed written terms and conditions. The Court rejected this argument finding that the purchase orders explicitly provided that performance of the job was acceptance of the terms and conditions as written. Any modification of those terms must have been in writing and before the job was performed.

D&H lost and the judgment awarding Aqua-Chem full replacement cooler costs was upheld on appeal. Additionally, D&H was ordered to pay Aqua-Chem's attorneys' fees.

This case highlights the importance of reading and understanding all the terms and conditions of a contract before performance. And, further, if certain terms are not desired, then those terms must be addressed in writing before performance is done.