In re Game of Thrones
323 U.Va 9 (2019)
Elicegui, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Shmazzle, VanderMeulen, Ranzini, Luk, and Schmid, JJ. join.
Justice Elicegui delivered the opinion of the Court.
*** Warning: Game of Thrones spoilers potentially ahead; insider references certainly ahead. Read at your own risk. This disclosure insulates the Court from liability should anyone be unhappy with a spoiler.
Plaintiff Hannah Dryer ’20 brings suit against Breanna Green ’20. Dryer alleges that Green breached an implied-in-fact contract by asking too many questions and being a bad guest during a Game of Thrones watch party. After careful consideration, the Court agrees that Green breached the contract. The Court awards compensatory damages and gives an injunction outlining the etiquette of television watching.
Game of Thrones has been called the “last great water-cooler fodder.” I mean, really, who can remember the last time we were all so invested in a show and had to wait a whole week to find out what happened in the next episode? And we got to talk it over with each other while we waited? Given the magnitude of such a cultural phenomenon, it is only natural that several claims would arise out of such a show. For the sake of efficiency, the Court has consolidated two Game of Thrones appeals and will dispense with both at once.
The plaintiff, Hannah Dryer ‘20, brings suit against Breanna Green ’20, seeking both compensatory and injunctive relief. Dryer alleges that Green breached an implied-in-fact contract to be a good Game of Thrones watching buddy, causing her severe emotional distress and disappointment. Dryer wants to make Green pay her for this harm. She also seeks an injunction to ban Green from her apartment for future episodes, to prevent harm from occurring again.
On Friday, April 12, Dryer woke up around 5 a.m. because she was too excited to sleep. Three days until Game of Thrones! She had been waiting 592 days for this moment and there was so much to be done before her watch party on Sunday night. Dryer began transforming her Pavilion one-bedroom apartment into Winterfell to really set the scene. Dryer spent the weekend decorating and cooking the perfect Game of Thrones-themed snacks—including greyscale cream puffs—printing out Game of Thrones brackets, making her selections, and managing the fantasy league as League Commissioner.
After days of prepping, the day finally arrived. Dryer welcomed thirteen of her sectionmates into Winterfell/her Pavilion apartment. Dryer and her sectionmates snacked and made their fantasy selections until 8:58 rolled around. At 8:58, Dryer refreshed HBO Go and started screaming. Season 8 was finally available! At that same moment, George Woods ’21, looked up from his phone, where he was reading the section GroupMe. “Breanna Green just texted that she’ll be a little late, but she’s on her way from Ivy. She asked if we could wait to start.” “Umm, sure, I guess,” Dryer responded, looking crestfallen. “Tell her to hurry, though. She only gets a three-minute grace period before we start.”
Six minutes later, Green had still not arrived. Dryer made the executive decision to begin the episode—she had already given Green double the grace period she had originally promised, and people really need to show more respect around such a sacred event. Nine minutes after that, Green rushed into the room. “What’d I miss, guys? Omg is Jon about to ride a dragon? Has Cersi killed anyone yet? Why does Bran look so angsty?”
Dryer gritted her teeth but didn’t say anything. Green proceeded to ask fifteen questions in a row, spilled cream puff crumbs on Dryer’s carpet, and started talking about her theories of the identity of the Prince who was Promised. Finally, Dryer had enough: “Breanna, I can’t take this anymore! Either shut up, and clean up your mess, or get out of my apartment!” Green refused to leave, and Dryer got more and more angry throughout the episode as Green kept ruining it. Finally, the end credits rolled and everyone left.
Dryer brought suit, and the lower court found against her. Under the doctrine of formal invites, the lower court found that Dryer invited her whole section to her watch party and did not put any conditions on the invite. Therefore, Green had a right to be at the party and that right continues through future episodes. Dryer appealed, and we granted certiorari to adjudicate proper Game of Thrones watching behavior.
After careful analysis, we conclude that Dryer had an implied in-fact-contract that Green breached with her conduct. Dryer extended an invitation to her section to “watch” Game of Thrones at her apartment. The word “watch” implies paying attention, listening, and taking in content as it is shown on the screen. “Watch” does not imply asking questions, talking, or sharing theories—particularly in a show that does not have commercial breaks.
We can only conclude that by extending an invitation only to “watch” and not “discuss” Game of Thrones, Dryer intended for her friends to observe the show without commentary. As courts often say in a fancy Latin phrase that this Court can’t remember, the inclusion of one implies exclusions of others. If Dryer wanted annoying commentary, she would have asked for it. Green accepted Dryer’s contract by coming to the watch party. The mutual promises provided by both (a place to watch Game of Thrones; friends to watch it with) constituted the consideration for the contract.
Because Green breached a contract, this Court must give a remedy. As law school taught us, rights are useless if no one is around to enforce them. Under considerations of fairness and mercy, this Court will award Dryer will damages to make up for the harm she has suffered. Green needs to make Dryer a batch of cookies and apologize. However, under the doctrine of mercy that Daenerys of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, The Unburnt, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Protector of the Realm, Lady Regent of the Seven Kingdoms, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons, doesn’t really seem to get, this Court will not award an injunction banning Green from Dryer’s watch party. Green deserves a second chance. Besides, Dryer already extended the invitation, so no takesie-backsies. Instead, this Court will award an injunction with conditions for next watch party: Green will either arrive on time or not ask what she missed; Green will withhold sharing all theories until after the show; and Green will tweet any questions she has instead of asking them. It is better to scream into the void than annoy the people around you.
It is so ordered.
 Just ask John Legend how annoying that is. He gently encouraged the Lady of the Manor, Chrissy Teigen, to not watch Game of Thrones because she asks too many questions.