Oakhurst Dairy, based in Portland, Maine found itself in a US$10 million lawsuit with milk-truck drivers due to a punctuation mark in a contract.
At issue was the missing serial comma after “packing for shipment” in the following clause: “The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of…perishable foods”
The missing comma, which would have separated “packing for shipment” and “distribution” into distinct activities, would have qualified both activities as exempt from overtime pay.
US Congress’s legislative drafting rules advocate using serial commas, “to prevent any misreading that the last item is part of the preceding one”. However, Maine’s legislature is in the minority of seven US American states which either do not require serial commas or expressly prohibit them.
The appellate judge was a serial comma advocate, suggesting, “We would be remiss not to note the clarifying virtues of serial commas that other jurisdictions recognize”.
Jim Bergman is a commercial contract professional with global experience spanning the USA, Latin America, UK, Europe, China, South Korea, Japan, India, SE Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Australia. He has worked on a wide range of direct and indirect spend categories in numerous sectors, developing a deep knowledge of services, goods and technology procurement and sales.
Across this wide array of commodity and services experience, Jim has found the keys to success in maximizing value for money through customer-supplier relationships founded on innovative category management and strategic sourcing practices, key performance metrics and measures, as well as Total Cost of Ownership principles and collaborative contracting tenets.
He has shared his knowledge through advisory engagements, as well as in developing and delivering training programs both on-line and in classrooms, in both open-enrollment and internal environments. Jim has assisted his clients through all phases and steps of contracting, negotiation, strategic sourcing and bidding processes, demonstrating value generation in excess of $250 million.
His audiences and clients have included over 7,000 attorneys and commercial professionals students from over 1,000 corporations and public-sector entities.
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