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'Girls Gone Wild's' Joe Francis' Helicopter Suit May Crash, Burn

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By Andrew Chow, Esq. on March 23, 2012 1:02 PM

"Girls Gone Wild" creator Joe Francis claims he dropped a wild amount of money to go halfsies on a helicopter. But the chopper deal apparently never took off, and now -- 10 years later -- he's suing to get his money back.

Joe Francis' helicopter lawsuit stems from an alleged oral agreement in 2002, gossip website TMZ reports. Francis forked over $226,000 for part-ownership of a Bell 206 LongRanger helicopter, which he never got to fly and was sold behind his back, his lawsuit claims.

But some potential legal obstacles will likely land Joe Francis' helicopter lawsuit in a judge's wastebasket recycling bin.

First, there's the issue of Francis’ alleged oral agreement for the helicopter purchase. Francis admits he never signed any paperwork, instead trusting his copter-buying partner -- a man TMZ describes as “some rich dude named Mohamed Hadid” -- to handle all the details.

Because there’s no written contract, the case may focus on a he said/he said between Francis and Hadid. The parties could try to offer various types of proof that an agreement existed (or never existed), such as email messages or a receipt for Francis’ money. But it’s not clear what records would still be available, as the deal reportedly happened a decade ago.

Another potential legal issue lies in a rule of contract law called the Statute of Frauds, which generally requires contracts to be in writing if they involve the sale of goods worth at least $500. But because Joe Francis says he paid Hadid for half-ownership -- not specifically for the sale of the chopper -- the Statute of Frauds may not apply.

One final factor means Joe Francis' helicopter lawsuit will likely crash and burn: California's statute of limitations for oral contract claims is two years, meaning Francis' 10-year-old claim is likely too old. Even if there'd been a written agreement, Francis would probably still be out of luck -- the statute of limitations for written contract claims is four years.

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