A court of equity has the power to reform the written evidence of a contract and make it correspond to the understanding of the parties. However, the mistake must be mutual to the parties to the contract. The fact, however, that one of the parties denies that a mistake was made does not prevent a finding of mutual mistake.
The parties entered into a contract whereby the appellant contractor would be permitted to deposit its construction waste as it engaged in work on the nearby turnpike. Appellee landowners filed the action and claimed that the contract was supposed to contain a provision that the contractor was supposed to first remove the topsoil before depositing the waste, then replacing the topsoil over the waste. Appellant contractor sought review of an order from the Court of Common Pleas, which granted the requested relief to reform the contract. The supreme court affirmed the judgment.
Was the grant of reformation of contract proper?
On review the court held that a court of equity had the power to reform the written evidence of a contract and make it correspond to the understanding of the parties, however the mistake had to be mutual to the parties to the contract. The court held that the fact that one party denied that a mistake was made did not prevent a finding of mutual mistake. The court held that the fact that the contractor operated under that provision and initially sandwiched the waste indicated an understanding that it was part of the agreement. The court held that the landowners sustained the heavy burden placed upon them, and their understanding of the agreement was corroborated by the undisputed evidence.