Join Date: Oct 2008
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Thanked 6,955 Times in 2,785 Posts
I'm going to preface my comment with a big ol' "I'M NOT A LAWYER," so please take the rest of what I say with that in mind.
That clause is unenforceable, I think, though it would certainly give me pause. It's certainly not written by a lawyer. "Disparaging" means to represent as having little worth, so it would actually cover a pretty limited set of circumstances, though it's clearly intended to prevent any and all criticism.
But anyway, contracts cannot supersede existing legal protections, so you can write clauses like that as much as you want, but if they conflict with an existing state or federal law, they can't be enforced. You cannot set aside your rights simply by initialing a clause like this. There are ways you can give up your right to disclose certain kinds of information (i.e., there can be non-compete contracts and trade secret clauses), but nothing as broad-reaching as what the Silvermine folks have tried for here.
In this case, as long as the person who signed the contract followed the rules of good manners and common sense like sticking to the facts and not using heated language,—which I'd recommend even if you haven't signed a clause like this—I don't see how they could be held to that $5000/comment provision. They could, however, be dragged into court over it, which would be unpleasant, even if they won.
If you think about it, you'd be a fool to sign a clause like that, enforceable or not. For me, it would be the biggest red flag of all that a breeder was attempting to prevent me from any kind of discussion of problems down the road. It makes it sound like the breeder is gearing up to screw me over and is trying to get me to sign away my rights to any recourse. What if they really did do something wrong? According to the clause, I'd just have to accept it and let them do whatever they want, because even a private conversation that doesn't reflect well on Silvermine would theoretically cost me $5000.