Does Dorner Reward 'Loophole' Mean $1M Won't Be Paid? - Legally Weird
Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Does Dorner Reward 'Loophole' Mean $1M Won't Be Paid?

Authorities publicly offered more than $1 million in reward money during the manhunt for ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner. But thanks to "loopholes" in how those rewards were announced, it's likely no one will be able to collect.

As you may know, Dorner dominated the headlines in Southern California for a week after gunning down police officers and those related to them. He died in a cabin that went up in flames after being cornered by law-enforcement officers.

Several private citizens were instrumental in leading authorities to Dorner. But thanks to legal loopholes in how the rewards were worded, there may be nobody collecting the prize, reports TMZ.

Under contract law, reward offers can be considered unilateral contracts. But here's why the three rewards offered in the Dorner manhunt will likely go uncollected:

  • Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's reward. The mayor announced a $1 million reward for information that would lead to the "capture and conviction" of Christopher Dorner. However, while Dorner was cornered by officers, he was certainly not convicted of any crime. So this technicality may take the largest reward off the table.

  • The Los Angeles City Council's reward. The City Council offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to "the identification, apprehension, and conviction" of Dorner. The identification and apprehension of Dorner are both arguable. But again, the deal-breaker here is that Dorner was never convicted.

  • The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors' reward. The Board of Supervisors offered a $100,000 reward for information "leading to the capture of Christopher Dorner." But was Dorner technically captured, or was he simply killed? These semantic arguments may prevent anyone from collecting this reward; one source at the Board even emphasized to TMZ that "Dorner was cornered but not captured."

So are private citizens who assisted in Dorner's "cornering" out of luck? Probably, but that doesn't mean they can't try to collect anyway. If a citizen's claim for reward money is rejected, he could try to sue for breach of contract; a potential argument would be that a reward was offered, and that reasonable people would understand that "capturing" the suspect would also include his being "cornered."

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