Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Mutual mistake and contract law.

Practice point: Mutual mistake may furnish the basis for the reformation of a written agreement where the signed writing does not express the actual agreement of the parties. Parol evidence is admissible to establish the actual agreement. However, there is a heavy presumption that the executed agreement reflects the true intention of the parties, and a correspondingly high order of evidence is required to overcome the presumption.

Student note: Thus, where a written agreement between sophisticated, counseled businesspersons  is unambiguous on its face, one party cannot defeat summary judgment by a conclusory assertion that, owing to mutual mistake or fraud, the writing did not express his or her own understanding of the oral agreement reached during negotiations.

Case: West Vernon Petroleum Corp. v. Singer Holding Corp., NY Slip Op 0073d Dept. 2013).

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow’s issue: Hit by intoxicated bar patron.