The district court found that the deed was executed as a result of undue influence, set aside the deed, and granted title to Conrad. Laurence appealed. Decision?
Conrad Schaneman was a Russian immigrant who could neither read nor write the English language. In 2012, Conrad deeded (conveyed) a farm he owned to his eldest son, Laurence, for $23,500, which was the original purchase price of the property in 1982. The value of the farm in 1982 was between $145,000 and $160,000. At the time he executed the deed, Conrad was an eighty-two-year-old invalid, was severely ill, and was completely dependent on others for his personal needs. He weighed between 325 and 350 pounds, had difficulty breathing, could not walk more than fifteen feet, and needed a special jackhoist to get in and out of the bathtub. Conrad enjoyed a long-standing, confidential relationship with Laurence, who was his principal adviser and handled Conrad’s business affairs. Laurence also obtained a power of attorney from Conrad and made himself a joint owner of Conrad’s bank account and $20,000 certificate of deposit. Conrad brought this suit to cancel the deed, claiming it was the result of Laurence’s undue influence. The district court found that the deed was executed as a result of undue influence, set aside the deed, and granted title to Conrad. Laurence appealed. Decision?
If one has won the confidence of the other and aspires to act or advise with the benefit of the other in mind, a confidential or fiduciary relationship exists between two entities.
In such a relationship, the court is going tocritically examine any transaction between the two parties,particularly to see that no discrimination has occurred where age, infirmity, and dysfunction isinvolved.
Here, the evidence indicates that there was a confidential relationship between Individual Cand Individual L at the time of the transmission.
The deed is then cancelled for undue interference.
The judgement of declaring the contract void on the grounds of undue influence of one party on another holds true here. Individual C had a confidential relationship with Individual L, which set a ground of trust among the two parties. While making the deed forIndividual C both attorney and joint partner at the time of handing over the piece of land seems to be an act performed under the influence of Individual L.
The mental and physical state of Individual C should also be kept under consideration since ill health may have also paved an easy way for Individual L to persuade Individual C.
The deed may be brought to an end on the account of undue influence.