Skip to main content



Asani v. Abundant Life Worship Center of Lincoln Park, N.J., Inc.

A-3856-08T2 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2010) (Unpublished)
  • Opinion Date: October 26, 2010
  • E-Mail

CONTRACTS; RESCISSION — Rescission of a contract is a remedy for a unilateral mistake, but only where the mistake is of sufficient consequence to make the contract unconscionable, in a situation where the mistake relates to a material feature of the contract, and had been made by one who had exercised reasonable care.

Owners purchased an entire sixteen acre parcel of land. A church purchased some adjacent land. While the sixteen acre parcel’s owners were overseas, the church approached the owners’ son to discuss the purchase of unimproved land within the parcel. The son recalled discussions of $300,000 per acre. The son received authorization from his parents to accept an offer of $350,000 per acre. The church, however, authorized a purchase of what it believed to be six acres for a total of $350,000. The final contract, drafted by both parties’ attorneys, described six acres to be sold for the $350,000. The church assumed the obligation to subdivide the purchased property. Thus, the owners would not have any variance obligations if either selling or using the remaining property. The son signed the contract on his parent’s behalf; the parents never signed the agreement, though they admitted that they authorized their son to act on their behalf.

Upon returning from overseas, the father saw the contract and immediately notified his attorney that a mistake had been made. The church wanted to proceed under the contract terms, but the father refused. The father filed suit seeking rescission of the contract due to unilateral mistake, i.e., his failure to detect an erroneous price in a contract. The church sued for specific performance of the agreement. The owners presented evidence that they would not have agreed to the price, notably declining to sell a five to six acre section of their parcel for $750,000 a year earlier. However, evidence was submitted that the value of the property without improvements and approvals needed for development would have resulted in a value of only $147,000. The lower court ruled that the parcel’s owners established a unilateral mistake on their part, but had not established the inequity or uncertainty needed to warrant either rescission or avoidance of specific performance. The Court found there was no evidence of overreaching, misrepresentation or fraud by the church when dealing with the owners’ son, and that the owners failed to establish that the sale price was unconscionable. It granted specific performance.

The Appellate Division affirmed, holding that rescission of a contract is a remedy for a unilateral mistake, but only where the mistake is of sufficient consequence to make the contract unconscionable, in a situation where the mistake relates to a material feature of the contract, and had been made by one who had exercised reasonable care. The Court found the lower court was not required to accept the earlier rejected offer of $750,000 as proof sufficient to establish that the sale price was unconscionable, when another expert report offered a much lower valuation of the unimproved land in its then as-is condition.


MEISLIK & MEISLIK
66 Park Street • Montclair, New Jersey 07042
tel: 973-783-3000 • fax: 973-744-5757 • info@meislik.com