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Godburn v. Meserve

Connecticut Supreme Court
37 A.2d 235 (1944)


Meserve (defendant) is the executor of the estate of Carrie J. Wells (the decedent). The decedent was an elderly woman who lived next door to Godburn (plaintiff) for over 20 years. Godburn rented a house from the decedent. Godburn and the decedent knew each other well during this time. When the decedent was 76 years old, she entered a contract with Godburn. The contract provided that the decedent and Godburn would live together until the decedent’s death, that Godburn would provide meals and basic care services for the decedent, and that Godburn would pay a reduced rent in exchange for performing these services for the decedent. The decedent agreed that if Godburn would perform these services for her until her death, she would leave her house to Godburn in her will. After two years of his arrangement, Godburn became very upset with the way the decedent was behaving. The decedent frequently complained about the state of the house and the meals she was served by Godburn. The decedent did not like being left alone in the house at night, and thus attempted to prevent Godburn from leaving on weekends or going on vacations. Godburn moved out of the house on August 5, 1941 and provided no further services to the decedent. The decedent revoked her will. The decedent died May 21, 1942 at the age of 83. Godburn brought suit in Connecticut state court seeking to enforce the agreement the decedent made to leave her house to Godburn. Godburn argued that the decedent’s behavior made it impossible for him to continue performing his part of the agreement until her death. The jury entered judgment in favor Godburn, and Meserve appealed.

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