Tuesday, May 27, 2008
This is the case I use to teach the doctrine of ratification, even though in this case the court found no ratification. It's a fun case to teach, and students are usually relieved to learn that the case is easier to understand than the parties' names are to pronounce.
It's fun to teach because it raises issues relating to a type of contract that we have had occasion to mention recently on this blog, namely marriage. Mary and Walter Stefanovicz owned a parcel of land in Connecticut as tenants-in-common. Botticello wanted to buy the land and he offered $75,000 for it. Mary said "no way" but she also said that she would not sell the land for less than $85,000, which Walter construed as meaning "way" when Boticello offered to lease the land with an option to purchase for $85,000. Several years and substantial improvements later, Botticello sought to exercise his option and Mary balked.
The court boldly found that, despite the fact that Walter handled much of the family's business affairs, Mary did not thereby make her husband her agent. You go girl! In addition, the court found that Mary had not ratified Walter's agreement with Botticello by accepting payments, as she was entitled to assume that such payments were nothing more than evidence of a lease. A wonderfully just result, except that it leaves Walter and Botticello as tenants-in-common, an arrangement that the parties likely would not have agreed to. I therefore take poetic license in the following Limerick in which I imagine where the story goes post-judgment.
Botticello v. Stefanovicz
Connecticut is one location
Where fam deals need ratification.
Walt sold out to Tony;
He now pays alimony
And owes Tony remuneration.
As reported earlier, I will be away for the rest of the week. However, I will not be fishing. I will be attending the Law & Society Association Meeting in Montreal. If time permits, I will report on any blogworthy events that arise.