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Thursday, October 08, 2009
12-Year-Old Gets Home Run Ball Back from Phillies

Any student taking basic contract law learns that one makes agreements with minors at their peril, as the minor has the right to disaffirm the contract since it is presumed that the person lacks the capacity to understand the nature and consequences of his/her actions. The Philadelphia Phillies were reminded of this old rule this week, as they decided to return Ryan Howard's 200th career home run ball to the 12-year old girl who caught it two and a half months ago. Click here for more.

Jennifer Valdivia wanted to keep the ball. However, Howard wanted the ball because it represented a record: He was the fastest player to achieve the milestone in league history. According to press reports, after catching the ball, Jennifer was escorted alone to the Phillies clubhouse, where they "talked her" into exchanging it for an autographed baseball. She did, but realizing afterwards that the home run ball could be valuable (and certainly more historic), she sought rescission of the agreement. Ultimately, she sued and the team returned the call that very day the lawsuit was filed. I, like others, probably wonder why the team officials escorted her alone. Had a parent or guardian been with her, the trade would be like valid and Howard would get his ball.

Although the "infancy rules" are filled with exceptions under rules, they still have validity, as can be seen in this case. [A great in-class example for the professors in the group -- if anyone has a link to the complaint, it would be interesting reading]


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