Sunday, December 1, 2013

Rubenstein v. Rubenstein case brief

Rubenstein v. Rubenstein case brief summary
120 A.2d 11 (1956)

Plaintiff challenged the decision of the Superior Court, Appellate Division (New Jersey), which affirmed the Chancery Division's judgment dismissing his complaint for relief sought to regain property interest that was allegedly conveyed to defendant under duress.

Plaintiff allegedly under duress conveyed all his properties to his wife defendant in exchange for her promise that the income would be used to take care of the children. Defendant contracted to sell a portion of the property for far below market value and defendant instituted an action against her seeking reconveyance of the property or equal shares of stock in her company, or a trust upon the land all for the benefit of the children. Plaintiff contended if property was sold at stated price it would so depreciate the remainder of the property as to jeopardize the children. The trial court dismissed the case and the appellate division affirmed.


  • The court found that upon a prima facie showing of duress by plaintiff the defendant had to disclose an explanation subject to the same scrutiny of plaintiff's testimony. 
  • The dismissal of plaintiff's action was premature.

The court reversed the judgment and remanded the cause, finding that because plaintiff made a prima facie showing of a compulsive yielding to the demand of conveyance rather than the volitional act of a free mind, a full disclosure by defendant should have been made. Defendant's explanation should have been subjected to the same scrutiny as plaintiff's personal observations and the assessment of his testimony.

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