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Friday, November 19, 2004

Backman's Blues

ESPN's Pedro Gomez sits down with Wally Backman to get his side of the story.

Methinks that Backman has been majorly screwed.

Here's my question - does the man have any legal recourse?

One of the first things that first year law students learn in a contracts class is the doctrine of promissory estoppel. While a little difficult to explain outside of the context of a law classroom, the concept is as such; if Backman relied on the D-backs' promise that the job was his, changed his position in life based on such reliance ("relied to his detriment"), and the D-backs should have reasonably expected Backman to rely on their promise, then he may be entitled to a settlement of some sort. For example, what if Backman passed up other managerial jobs or sources of income based on his sure shot with Arizona?

Let's look at the facts--Backman was wearing a D-backs jersey at the hiring press conference, every media outlet reported that he had the job, and the D-backs even said they would stick with him 100% after the allegations came out, allegations of which they were completely unaware of until reading the NY Times, even after having Backman coach in their minor league system.

It should be noted that Backman never signed a contract. However, promissory estoppel is designed for situations in which there is no such contract, but the promisee relies on the word of the promisor to the point where it would be deemed inequitable for the promisor not to honor their agreement. In other words, an agreement in which one side completely had the rug pulled out from under their feet.

There's obviously other issues at stake; foremost being Backman's honesty in the interview process. But I don't think it's unrealistic to think that he might have a case. Thoughts?


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