McKinnon v. Benedict

38 Wis. 2d 607, 157 N.W.2d 665 (1968)

 

RULE:

The contract must be certain, unambiguous, mutual, and upon a valuable consideration; it must be perfectly fair in all its parts; free from any misrepresentation or misapprehension, fraud or mistake, imposition or surprise; not an unconscionable or hard bargain; and its performance not oppressive upon the defendant. Enforcement by injunction may be denied if the court of equity is not satisfied that to grant specific performance would be fair, just, and reasonable, and founded on an adequate consideration. If there is any well founded objection on any of these grounds, the practice of the court is to leave the party to his remedy at law for a compensation in damages.

FACTS:

The parties entered into a contractual land purchase agreement with respondents, wherein appellants were bound for a period of 25 years from exercising the right to make optimum and lawful use of their property. Appellant's testimony showed that his desire for a more stable financial basis from use of the property was his motivation for constructing a proposed campsite and trailer camp. Considering the inadequacy of consideration, the court concluded that the contract failed to meet the test of reasonableness that was the sine qua non of the enforcement of rights in an action in equity.

ISSUE:

Is the consideration in the agreement sufficient to make the contract enforceable against defendants?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

While there is no doubt that there are benefits from this agreement to plaintiffs, they are more than outweighed by the oppressive terms that would be imposed upon Defendants. Plaintiff testified that he and his wife spend only the summer months on their property. Undoubtedly, these are the months when it is most important that there be no disruption of the natural beauty or the quiet and pleasant enjoyment of the property; nevertheless, there was testimony that the trailer camp could not be seen from plaintiffs' home, nor could the campsite be seen during the summer months of the year, when the leaves were on the trees. Thus, the detriment of which plaintiffs complain, that would be cognizable in an equity action, is minimal, while the damage done to defendants is severe.

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