ContractsProf Blog

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Valparaiso Univ. Law School

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

A $16 Million Dollar Typo [File this in: Whoops!]

Yesterday’s NYLJ reported on a NY trial court decision ordering a condo developer to return a total of $16 million in down payments to 40 condo purchasers.

The offering plan and purchasing agreement for The Rushmore, a luxury Upper West Side condo, contained a September 1, 2008 rescission date.  More specifically, the offering plan allowed purchasers to get back their deposits if closings did not occur by September 1, 2008.  When the closings did not happen, the purchasers sought return of their down payments.  The developer argued that the date should have been September 1, 2009 – an alleged scrivener’s error by the developer’s attorney. 

The trial court (Singh, J.) held that the developer did not meet “its heavy burden to show that the alleged ‘scrivener’s error’ was contrary to the intention of the parties and had not provided evidence that the parties intended a September 1, 2009 date.” In particular, the court distinguished previous cases by noting that the date in the offering plan was consistent with other documents and rescission of the contracts did not result in a windfall to the purchasers. 

Ouch!  Actually, that has to be more than a $16 million mistake given the change in the real estate market since the purchase agreements were signed...

CRP/Extell Parcel I, L.P. v. Cuomo (NY Sup. Ct. 113914/2010 Jan. 19, 2012).  (Procedurally, the proceeding was commenced to review an Attorney General determination in favor of the purchasers).

[Meredith R. Miller]

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Comments

First of all, I'm an avid follower of your blog and really appreciate your insights and application of academic theory to the real-world practice of law.

This is a horrible mistake that you've highlighted! Ouch!

I'm actually a student and am working on a project aimed to prevent exactly this! My project is called Ridacto (http://www.ridacto.com), and it's an artificial intelligence system we've built to allow attorneys and business professionals create better legal contracts. It checks contracts for potential errors and consistencies and presents a dashboard report of all the key terms like DATES (i.e., it would've clearly shown the wrong date in this case, and the writer could've fixed it easily). With long contracts that have many prices, dates, and names buried throughout, having a quick dashboard to review all of these for consistency should save people time and prevent costly mistakes like this.

I'm curious to hear what you think, and again, thank you for sharing this eye-opening story.

Posted by: Max Mednik | Jan 27, 2012 8:32:17 AM

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