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Botticello v. Stefanovicz

Supreme Court of Connecticut
411 A.2d 16 (1979)


Facts

Mary and Walter Stefanovicz (defendants) own a farm as tenants in common. Mary and Walter each have an undivided half interest in the farm. When Mary and Walter purchased the farm, Walter attended to many of the business matters of running the farm, including paying the mortgage, taxes, and insurance. Botticello (plaintiff) subsequently visited the farm and commenced negotiations with Walter to buy it. Walter and Mary discussed selling the farm, and Mary said that she would not sell it for less than $85,000. Botticello and Walter agreed to a price of $85,000 and executed a lease with an option to purchase the farm. Walter signed the lease/option-to-purchase agreement (Agreement) on his own, without representing that he was acting on behalf of Mary. After taking possession of the farm, Botticello regularly paid rent and openly made extensive improvements to the property. Several years later, Botticello exercised the option to buy the farm. Walter and Mary refused to honor the purchase option and Botticello sued to enforce it. At trial, Botticello argued that regardless of whether a principal-agent relationship existed between Mary and Walter, the Agreement was binding on Mary because her actions, including accepting Botticello’s rent payments and acknowledging his land improvements, showed that she had ratified it. The trial court decided in favor of Botticello and ordered specific performance of the Agreement.

Rule of Law

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Holding and Reasoning (Peters, J.)

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