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Farnum v. Silvano

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Farnum appealed the decision of the trial court after Joseph Silvano bought a home from 90-year-old Viola Farnum for half the market value. 

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A contract for the sale of real property is voidable if one of the parties to the contract: (1) is unable to understand the nature the contract or (2) is unable to act in a reasonable manner to satisfy the contract and the other party to the contract knows or has reason to know of the party’s mental disease or defect. 

    Facts.

    90-year-old Viola Farnum (Farnum), sold her home for half the market value to Joseph Silvano (Silvano). Farnum suffered from dementia and Silvano often mowed Farnum’s lawn. Silvano paid for the lawyer who represented Farnum in the sale. Farnum’s nephew sued Silvano in efforts to rescind the sale. The trial court ruled in favor of Silvano.

    Issue.

    Whether a contract for the sale of real property is voidable if one of the parties to the contract has a mental disease or defect?

    Held.

    Yes. Although Farnum may have been lucid enough to acknowledge that she was selling her home for half of the property’s value, Farnum may not have acknowledged the nature and consequences of her actions. Silvano had reason to know of Farnum’s dementia and Farnum is entitled to the rescission of the contract for the sale of land. 

    Discussion.

    A contract for the sale of real property is voidable if one of the parties to the contract: (1) is unable to understand the nature the contract or (2) is unable to act in a reasonable manner to satisfy the contract and the other party to the contract knows or has reason to know of the party’s mental disease or defect.


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