Jesse Dimmick is suing Jared and Lindsay Rowley, whom he was convicted of kidnapping, for breach of contract. Dimmick argues that because the two won his trust when he invaded their house at knifepoint (while fleeing a murder charge which led to him driving over a police spike-strip in front of their house), and then left once he fell asleep, they violated their contract to remain his hostages. The couple lulled Dimmick with a clever strategy of watching Robin Williams's Patch Adams with him while eating Cheetos and drinking Dr Pepper.
You see, Dimmick alleges that, after breaking into the Rowleys' home with a knife and gun, they all then sat down and hashed out a deal under which they would hide him from police (the police who were right outside) for an unspecified amount of money. "Later," he complained, "the Rowleys reneged on said oral contract, resulting in my being shot in the back by authorities." Ergo, breach of contract.
Um, no, wrote the Rowleys' attorney in a motion to dismiss earlier this month. He had multiple arguments, all very good ones, as to why a contract claim would not fly here. First, there was no agreement. Second, if there was an agreement, there was no meeting of the minds on the amount of money (Dimmick admitted the "offer" was for "an unspecified amount"), and so no binding contract. Third, agreements made at knifepoint are, you may be surprised to learn, not enforceable as they are made "under duress." Finally, a contract to do something illegal (e.g. hide a fugitive) is also not enforceable.
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.