Undue influence is a valid reason to rescind a contract.
Plaintiff Donald Odorizzi was employed as an elementary school teacher by defendant Bloomfield School District and was under contract with the district to continue to teach school the following year as a permanent employee. Prior to his permanency, he was arrested on criminal charges of homosexual activity leading him to tender resignation, which the school accepted. When the criminal charges against him were dismissed, Odorizzi sought to resume his employment with the district. On the district's refusal to reinstate him he filed suit for declaratory and other relief on the ground that his resignation was obtained through duress, fraud, mistake, and undue influence and given at a time when he lacked capacity to make a valid contract.
Did the school district induce plaintiff’s resignation and was such tantamount to constructive fraud, duress, or undue influence?
The school district relied on overpersuasion and thus there were grounds for rescission of the contract.
Overpersuasion is generally accompanied by certain characteristics which tend to create a pattern. The pattern usually involves several of the following elements: (1) discussion of the transaction at an unusual or inappropriate time, (2) consummation of the transaction in an unusual place, (3) insistent demand that the business be finished at once, (4) extreme emphasis on untoward consequences of delay, (5) the use of multiple persuaders by the dominant side against a single servient party, (6) absence of third-party advisers to the servient party, (7) statements that there is no time to consult financial advisers or attorneys. If a number of these elements are simultaneously present, the persuasion may be characterized as excessive, as is the case here.