Your lawyer writes to a Las Vegas casino — The Venetian, say. In his letter he asks "that all credit lines established by [or for you] immediately be terminated and that no further credit be extended to [you] under any circumstances."
Seems you may have some kind of gambling problem?
Seven months later find you back at The Venetian. The nice casino people get you to sign a "marker" for $500,000 and give you the money to gamble with as you wish. And you proceed to lose it all. All. Of. It.
But you refuse to pay. The casino sues you. The district court grants summary judgment against you. You appeal. Do you win?
This time you do. Why? The credit application that you signed to get the line of credit with The Venetian included the following:
The Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino endorses responsible gaming. We will cancel or reduce your credit line upon your request.
Your lawyer's letter, the court held, raises a fact question as to whether you canceled the credit line that may have allowed you to get and draw on the "marker". No credit line in turn means no — Uniform Commercial Code alert! — holder in due course status for the casino and therefore no immunity from your personal defenses, including your defense that you didn't bind yourself to repay the line of credit or marker. Las Vegas Sands, LLC v. Nehme, No. 09-16740 (9th Cir. Jan. 11, 2011).
The panel noted, by the way, that having "a 'gambling problem' . . . is not a defense to a gambling debt under Nevada law." Id. slip op. at 665 n.4. Which you figure Nevada law pretty much has to say.
Will The Venetian give up trying to pursue Mr. Nehme? Blawgletter doubts it will. Breach of the casino's promise to "cancel or reduce your credit line upon your request" caused you harm how? It hurt you by causing you to sign a marker for $500,000 then losing it all? That sounds like a hard sell to us — especially to a Las Vegas jury.
Bonus: The panel's ruling turned on whether the district court erred in refusing to consider letters by Mr. Nehme's lawyer to The Venetian and a postal receipt acknowledgment that someone at The Venetian appeared to have signed. The court held that the documents seemed authentic because of what they said and that they didn't need an affidavit to prove their authenticity.