Citation. 144 F.3d 1384 (11th Cir. 1998)
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Brief Fact Summary.
An employee of a corporation signed a contract drafted in a foreign language he did not speak or read.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
A corporation will not be relieved from its contractual obligation if one of its employees signs a contract in a language he does not speak or read.
The document at issue was a two-sided form entirely written in Italian. The Plaintiff, was MCC-Marble Ceramic Center, Inc. (the "Plaintiff"). The Plaintiff's agent, Monzon, did not speak or read Italian, but signed the form. A provision in the form incorporated certain terms on its second side.
Does a sophisticated businessman's signing of a contract in another language that he does not speak or read, relieve his employer of its obligations under the agreement?
No. The court observed, "[w]e find it nothing short of astounding that an individual, purportedly experienced in commercial matters, would sign a contract in a foreign language and expect not to be bound simply because he could not comprehend its terms." Additionally, the court found nothing in the CISG "that might counsel this type of reckless behavior and nothing that signals any retreat from the proposition that parties who sign contracts will be bound by them regardless of whether they have read them or understood them."
This case counsels individual to ask for help prior to signing something they do not understand.