Home > Uncategorized > Legal News Update: Lawyer’s “million-dollar challenge” was not an enforceable contract.

Legal News Update: Lawyer’s “million-dollar challenge” was not an enforceable contract.

So a lawyer headlined in the ABAJournal yesterday because he evidently announced on national television that he would pay $1 Million to anyone who could disprove his client’s alibi.

As the ABA Journal Reports it “In the interview, recorded before trial and broadcast after his client’s 2006 conviction, [the lawyer[ said the prosecution’s theory was impossible. “I challenge anybody to show me—I’ll pay them a million dollars if they can do it,” he said in the edited interview. “Twenty-eight minutes, can’t happen. Didn’t happen.”

A law student took up the Lawyer’s “million dollar challenge”

Once the lawyer decided not to “pay up”, the law student sued the attorney for the million dollars.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals held in favor of the lawyer – that the “million dollar challenge” did not give rise to an enforceable unilateral contract.

Unilateral v Bilateral Contract?

According to Black’s Law Dictionary, Eighth Edition, pg 349, a unilateral contract is “[a] contract in which only one party makes a promise or undertakes a performance.”

As further clarified: “[M]any unilateral contracts are in reality gratuitous promises enforced for good reason with no element of bargain.” Id. citing P.S. Atiyah, An Introduction to the Law of Contract 126 (3d ed. 1981).

in a unilateral contract, something needs to happen in order for the contract to be binding. In the context of real estate, think about the difference between a “purchase agreement” and an “option to purchase” (If I lost you on that one, just e-mail me)

So, using the $1 Million challenge as an example, the law student argued that there was an offer made to him (and anyone watching the T.V. broadcast, apparently) and he accepted that offer by travelling from Florida to Georgia…

The Court did not buy that argument.

in contrast:

a bilateral contract  embodies “mutual and interdependent conditions and obligations.” Brauer v. Hobbs, 151 Mich. App. 769, 776, 391 N.W.2d 482, 485 (1986).

For example, most written contract between two parties. the conditions and obligations go both ways, and there are remedies in the event that one party does not do what they promise to do.


I don’t think there is one here. Unless you are considering to take the $1 Million Challenge, I think the lesson is, don’t do it, or the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals will hold against you once your case gets dismissed at the trial level.


email: Jeshua@dwlawpc.com

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , ,
  1. Ann
    January 7, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    The lesson for the attorney issuing the challenge, who probably incurred a great deal of expense in defending himself against the lawsuit, is don’t shoot off your mouth on TV.

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