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Kang v. Harrington
Hawaii Supreme Court
587 P.2d 285 (1978)
Dolly Won lived next door to her father, Lawrence Kang (plaintiff). Acting as Kang’s agent, Won agreed to rent Kang’s property to W. Dewey Harrington (defendant) for one year, with an option to renew the lease for a second year. Harrington drew up the letter of agreement, which correctly restated the terms to which he and Wong had agreed, except that it incorrectly referred to Won’s street address rather that Kang’s address. Won signed in haste, without noticing the error. Harrington then prepared the lease contract, which correctly referred to Kang’s property, and gave it to Won for her signature. Harrington said he was in a hurry, so once again Won signed in haste, this time without noticing that the contract gave Harrington an option to renew the lease in perpetuity. Harrington then took occupancy and made many more extensive improvements to the property than he and Won had previously discussed. Harrington later revealed his intention to exercise the perpetual-renewal option. Kang sued Harrington for fraud. The trial court found that (1) Harrington’s letter of agreement fraudulently misstated the property’s address so that he could later disclaim the agreed-upon one-year renewal option, (2) Harrington hurried Won into signing the lease contract so that she would not notice the perpetual-renewal option, and (3) Harrington deliberately undertook extensive improvements to bolster his claim to a long-term lease on the property. The trial court entered judgment for Kang and awarded him compensatory and punitive damages. Harrington appealed to the Hawaii Supreme Court.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Richardson, C.J.)
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