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Ryan v. Weiner

Delaware Court of Chancery
610 A.2d 1377 (1992)


Facts

Robert Ryan (plaintiff) is a 69-year-old retired laborer with a ninth grade education. In 1971, Ryan and his wife purchased a home for $8,600.00 and took out a mortgage. By 1984, Ryan was in arrears. The mortgage lender instituted foreclosure proceedings and obtained a default judgment against him. At that time, the fair market value of the home was $19,800.00 and the balance of the mortgage was $8,000.00. Norman Weiner (defendant), a licensed real estate broker, went to Ryan’s home unsolicited on May 13, 1984. Ryan believed that Weiner was offering to lend him money to pay off his arrears. Early the next morning, Weiner took Ryan to Weiner’s lawyer to sign several documents. The documents were not explained to Ryan, and Ryan was not advised he had the right to seek legal advice. Ryan believed he was signing loan documents, but in fact, he signed a deed transferring his property to Weiner. The deed stated that Ryan received $7,000.00 in consideration, but Ryan was not compensated for the house. Moreover, Weiner never paid off the balance of the outstanding mortgage or satisfied the default judgment against Ryan. Thus, Ryan remained personally liable for the mortgage. Ryan remained in the home as a tenant of Weiner’s. Although his rent was initially close to the amount of the monthly mortgage, Weiner raised it substantially over the course of seven years. By May 1991, Weiner believed he had paid more than the amount he owed Weiner and stopped making payments. Weiner commenced a summary proceeding in the justice of peace court to evict Ryan. The court stayed the proceeding in order for this court to determine whether the deed should be canceled.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Allen, J.)

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