How do you remedy a misdeal? As a item offered in a law-school charity auction, a fellow law prof and I offered a poker party. Several students joined to purchase the opportunity. We gathered, together with some S.O.s and kids in tow, last Friday night. In the course of the fun, in retrospect, I think I misdealt a card at a crucial moment.
I realized the probable mistake only after I'd studied the correct dealing pattern more carefully. It was a somewhat complicated (or so it seemed, after a martini) dealing pattern—Texas hold-em, I think—and I must admit that I did not pay sufficient attention to my instructions. The loud excitement made concentration difficult and the festivities my memory dim, but I'm pretty sure that I failed to "burn" a card before dealing the last one up. I thus think I laid down the wrong random card.
I offer that only by way of explanation, not exculpation. I'm pretty sure that I erred, and thus inadvertently favored one party over another. How should I correct my error?
I should apologize to the adversely-affected party, to be sure. An offer to repay her money down—$50—seems in order, too. But do I owe her still more? Did I breach an implied promise to exercise due care in card dealing? And, if so, could she get expectation damages? Or would she have to rest content with the $50 of restitution?
I think I'll ask my Contracts II students those questions. The hypo—or, rather, the actuality—offers a good problem of contract remedies. Describing it will, happily, give me a chance to make my apology public, too.
By the way, my error (supposing I made one) worked in the favor of my fellow professor, who ended up winning the evening's game. He's promised to donate his bounty to the same charitable cause—the Public Interest Law Foundation—that benefited from the auction of our poker game.