Saturday, December 6, 2008

Thompson on Meinhard v. Salmon

Robert B. Thompson, Vanderbilt University School of Law, has posted The Story of Meinhard v. Salmon and Fiduciary Duty's Punctilio. Here is the abstract:
Benjamin Cardozo's 1928 opinion in Meinhard v. Salmon that co-venturers owe each other "the punctilio of an honor the most sensitive" remains, 80 years later, a defining point for framing the discussion of fiduciary duty, still the most important issue in the law of business associations. This work develops the story of Messers. Meinhard and Salmon and their relationship with the very wealthy Livingston/Gerry family who owned the land in New York City at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street that gave rise to this long-running dispute. [Pictured at right, from Professor Thompson's website.] The context helps delineate the scope of fiduciary duty in a way that Cardozo's memorable language does not. This in turn leads to a discussion of the role of private ordering in structuring relationships where such a duty may not be desired and what this classic case may tell us about contracting out of fiduciary duty in a modern setting.
A post on Geoffrey Miller's earlier article on the case and street corner is here.

Image credit.