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Rubenstein v. Rubenstein

Supreme Court of New Jersey
120 A.2d 11 (1956)


Facts

Mr. Rubenstein (plaintiff) and Mrs. Rubenstein (defendant) are married but separated. They have two children. In 1952, their oldest child was diagnosed with “childhood schizophrenia.” Mr. and Mrs. Rubenstein strongly disagreed over the best course of treatment for their child. This disagreement led to their separation. Mr. and Mrs. Rubenstein owned several large pieces of property in tenancy by the entirety. Mrs. Rubenstein asked Mr. Rubenstein to transfer all of the property solely to her. She promised to care for their two children out of the income earned from the property. Mr. Rubenstein initially refused. In December 1952, Mrs. Rubenstein began threatening Mr. Rubenstein to attempt to convince him to transfer the property to her. Mr. Rubenstein testified that Mrs. Rubenstein threatened him with gangster violence, arsenic poisoning, and arrest. Mr. Rubenstein was particularly troubled by the threat of arsenic poisoning, and Mrs. Rubenstein’s father was currently in prison on a charge of murder committed while he was a member of an “arsenic ring.” In April 1953, Mr. Rubenstein responded to the threats by agreeing to transfer the property solely to his wife. Mr. Rubenstein brought suit against Mrs. Rubenstein in New Jersey state court, seeking to recover the property on the ground that he was induced to transfer it to Mrs. Rubenstein through duress. The trial court granted Mrs. Rubenstein’s motion to dismiss, and the appellate court affirmed. Mr. Rubenstein appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Heher, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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