One of the first things any law school student will learn in what is usually a 2L Legal Drafting course is that punctuation, grammar, and sentence structure really do matter. I remember my professor telling us that the placement of a single comma affected whether the plaintiff in a case would be given a $2+ million award or nothing at all. I bet the legal clerk drafting that contract wish he/she took an extra .2 hours to double check in that instance. It probably would have cost the client all of $30.
The punctuation, sentence structure, and words used comes in to play in contractual matters more often that one might initially think. For instance, whether the word “inclusive” or “exclusive” was used in an agreement could decide who actually owns the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Three copies of the agreement say “inclusive” and three copies say “exclusive”. If the former is the accepted version, then Frank McCourt is likely the sole owner of the team. If the latter is accepted, then Jamie McCourt could be the co-owner of the Dodgers. Neither party claims to have known about the difference in wording until well after signing the agreement.
We are not talking about the $2 million alluded to by my Legal Drafting professor. In this case, the word could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Think that the attorney who gave two different documents to the signing parties might have some explaining to do? That, and some paying to do after he is sued for legal malpractice by either Frank or Jamie McCourt (depending on which version is accepted).