Artist’s Breach of Contract Lawsuit to go to Trial

The lawsuit between noted Canadian artist Michael Snow and the developers of the headquarters for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in downtown Toronto has taken another turn after a judge recently ordered the case to go to trial.

Artist Michael Snow is suing for breach of contract , among other issues. He was looking to get a quick settlement from the lawsuit that’s been simmering along for about two years, but the judge rejected his request for a summary judgment, saying the matter was too complicated and required a full trial with jury.

Certainly, the various facets of the case that have emerged from published reports indicate a number of relevant issues. The artist says he was commissioned to create an art installation for Festival Towers, the condo complex that sits atop the TIFF Bell Lightbox, a showplace for cinema in downtown Toronto. The project was valued at $450,000 and the lawsuit is claiming a total of $671,000 as the estimated gross value of the contract. Toronto-based The Daniels Corporation is named as one of the principles in the suit.

According to Mr. Snow’s claim, he began working on designs for the art installation in 2006, shortly after being contacted by the complex’s developers. In his version of events, he was assured the project was his, and both sides acknowledge that he was paid over $20,000 between 2006 and 2008, when dealings eventually broke down between the parties. At that point, representatives for The Daniels Corporation say that Mr. Snow failed to meet the terms of reference for signing a binding contract, one of which was to provide specific cost breakdowns. Mediation was attempted, but proved to be of no avail.

Salient points:

  • Contrary to Mr. Snow’s version, representatives for The Daniels Corporation claim that Mr. Snow was only one of many artists under consideration for the lucrative public art project.
  • There was no written contract, which Mr. Snow’s representatives acknowledge as a “huge mistake” in published reports. Mr. Snow insists there was a draft contract in its place.
  • The payments made to the artist: Mr. Snow’s representatives are insisting this represents an exchange of considerations and therefore a legally binding contract, while a spokesman for The Daniels Corporation is calling it development fees paid only because of Mr. Snow’s international standing in the arts community.
  • Michael Snow claims that his involvement in the project was a key element in obtaining approval for the building permit, since a public art component was a requirement imposed by Toronto City Council.

In short, Mr. Snow and his representatives claim that his involvement over the 2 year period constituted a contractual relationship they say is supported by documentation that includes emails, letters and meetings with parties at all levels.

However the case plays out, it illustrates the complicated relationships that can and do often occur between parties in a contractual work situation. Legal representation is a must not only in sorting it out to your advantage in the case of a dispute, but also strongly recommended from the outset to ensure that any arrangements entered into, whether enshrined in writing or not, work for you.

Get the Legal Representation You Need

Know your rights. Contact the breach of contract lawyers at Petrillo Law today by calling (905) 949-9433. We look forward to hearing from you.

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