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Geitner v. Townsend

312 S.E.2d 236 (1984)

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Geitner v. Townsend

North Carolina Court of Appeals

312 S.E.2d 236 (1984)

Facts

In 1961, First National Bank of Catawba County (bank) (plaintiff) was appointed as guardian over David Royer Geitner’s (defendant) estate. Geitner, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, was adjudicated as incompetent to manage his own estate. In 1975, Geitner was released from an inpatient institution after a judge found that he was not harmful to himself or others. Geitner then sought outpatient treatment at the Carolina Friendship House and lived independently at his home, which the bank had purchased. In April 1980, Geitner met Marcia Townsend (defendant) at the Carolina Friendship House. Townsend had physical impairments but did not suffer from any mental or cognitive impairments. On May 28, 1980, Geitner proposed to Townsend. The couple was married the following day and began living together in Geitner’s home. Following the marriage, the bank filed an annulment action against Townsend on Geitner’s behalf. The bank claimed that the marriage was void because Geitner had been previously adjudicated as incompetent and therefore could not legally enter a marriage contract. Geitner was appointed guardian ad litem and intervened as a defendant. At trial, Geitner and Townsend introduced testimony from expert and lay witnesses to support their claim that Geitner had sufficient mental capacity to enter the marriage. The bank also introduced testimony to support its claim that Geitner did not have sufficient mental capacity to enter the marriage. A jury found that at the time Geitner entered the marriage, he had sufficient mental capacity and therefore the marriage was valid and neither void nor voidable. The bank appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Eagles, J.)

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