Cundick v. Broadbent


– September 1963 – via one-page contract Cundick agreed to sell all ranching property.
– Mr. and Mrs. Cundick went to lawyer, drafted an 11 page contract – all parties signed.
– October, 1963 – contract amended to 2000 acres for $40,000.
o People valued the land at a much greater price afterwards: $74,000 – $184,000.
– February, Cundick still planned to execute document.
– March, price had been paid, sale almost complete.
o His wife ad litem (for the purpose of suing) brought an action to rescind.
o Psychiatric treatment in 1961 – but nothing was said or done “by the wife” prior to the contract…why didn’t she say that he was inept during the deal?
Defendant’s argument
– He was not mentally competent to complete a contract – Broadbent had “knowingly” overreached him.
– He was mentally weak.
– Broadbent committed “fraud” because of his weak-mindedness.

Procedural History

– Trial court was in favor of Broadbent – the acts and conduct of Cundick between September 1963 and February 1964 were the acts, conduct and behavior of a person competent to manage his affairs and cognizant of the effect of his actions.
– Court of appeals affirmed the trial courts judgment.


– Did the allegedly disabled person possess sufficient reason to enable him to understand the nature and effect of the act in issue?


– Yes.


– The contractual act by one claiming to be mentally deficient, but not under guardianship, absent fraud, or knowledge of such asserted incapacity by the other contracting party, is not a void act but at most only void-able at the instance of the deficient party, and then only in accordance with certain equitable principles.


– Mere weakness of body or mind, or of both, do not constitute what the law regards as mental incompetency sufficient to render the contract voidable.
– Record is “conspicuously” silent concerning any discussions between his friends and family in the community in regards to his mental incompetence.

Courts ruling

– Broadbent had no idea that he was “mentally incompetent.”
o R § 15 – “other party has reason to know of his condition”
 Broadbent did not deceive or overreach Cundick…even though there was some evidence that the price was indeed higher, they amended the deal and proceeded forward and the contract was modified.
– R §15 (2) – contract is made on fair terms – other party is without knowledge of mental defect – the power of avoidance under subsection (1) terminates to the extent that the contract has been performed in whole/or in part OR circumstances have so changed that avoidance would be unjust.
– Affirmed.


– Looking at the behavior of the person while the deal is going on…not before or after…In this case it wasn’t well know that he was mentally deficient to make a contract, the Broadbent had no reason to infer that he was indeed deficient
o could argue that it was unjust!
o It was not made on fair terms R§15(2)
– Conversely, in Orterele she was on a leave of absence from work because she was mentally ill – the same company that is incorporated with her was also the company that allowed her to take the money out…

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