Don’t Confuse E.g. and I.e.

Many people do, like the drafters of a contract at issue in an Indiana case brought to our attention by Ross Guberman in a LinkedIn post.

The contract made one party responsible for ‘the periodic repair of damages to said Easement area caused by vehicular traffic (i.e. potholes)’.

That party argued it was therefore not responsible to repaint lines in the area in question (a parking lot) after normal wear and tear from traffic not causing potholes.

The trial court held that potholes were but one example of damage to the parking lot. The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed, taking a typically US literalist view of contract interpretation: i.e. means ‘that is’, not ‘for example’, so the responsible party was required to fix potholes, and only potholes.

See Speedway Corp v Wilson Real Estate II LLC, Memorandum Decision 67A01-1709-SC-2089 (Ind CA, 18 April 2018).

A Canadian court might take a more contextual approach to arrive at the opposite result, but the Indiana case is a useful reminder that you’re better off using English if your Latin is rusty (or non-existent).

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)

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