Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiff, Anthony Botticello, entered a real estate leasing agreement with an option to buy with Defendant-husband, Walter Stefanovicz. Plaintiff was unaware that Walter Stefanovicz only had an undivided half interest in the real estate, while Defendant-wife, Mary Stefanovicz, owned the other half and refused to accept the terms of the agreement.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Ratification of an agency relationship by the principal requires full knowledge of the material circumstances, regardless of the principal receiving the proceeds or benefits of the agent’s work.
Issue. The issue is whether Mary agreed to allow Walter to act as her agent by ratifying his conduct when she received the proceeds of the agreement at issue.
Held. Walter was not acting as an agent on behalf of Mary. No apparent authority existed because Plaintiff never knew that Mary was a principal. There was no ratification by Mary for Walter’s conduct because she was unaware that the benefits she received from the agreement stemmed from a lease with an option to buy.
Discussion. The court holds that a marriage cannot in itself prove an agency relationship, and no agency relationship is established by a joint ownership. One owner cannot bind the other owner through an agency relationship simply because they are joint owners.