Thursday, December 26, 2013

Stambovsky v. Ackley case brief

Stambovsky v. Ackley case brief summary
572 N.Y.S.2d 672 (1991)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Plaintiff appealed dismissal of his complaint by the Supreme Court, New York County (New York), in action seeking recission of contract for sale of a house that plaintiff later discovered had a reputation as being haunted.

CASE FACTS
Plaintiff contracted to purchase a house from defendant, and after the sale was complete plaintiff learned the house had a reputation as being possessed by poltergeists. Plaintiff filed a complaint to rescind the contract, which was dismissed by the trial court.

DISCUSSION

  • The appellate court reversed. 
  • First, the court concluded that due to defendant's reports of the alleged hauntings in national and local publications, she was estopped to deny the poltergeists' existence and thus, as the court stated, "as a matter of law, the house [was] haunted." 
  • Noting that reports of hauntings lowered the resale value of the house, the court held that while caveat emptor prevented an action for damages, it did not prevent the equitable remedy of recission. 
  • Here, recission was appropriate since defendant not only took unfair advantage of plaintiff's ignorance as to the house's reputation, but defendant herself also had created and perpetuated that reputation.
CONCLUSION
Dismissal reversed, as while caveat emptor prevented an action for damages, it did not prevent plaintiff's desired equitable remedy of recission. Recission was appropriate since defendant took unfair advantage of plaintiff's ignorance of house's haunted reputation, which reputation defendant herself had created and perpetuated.

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