case11-1 - enter into extortionate agreements with their...

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Catherine Reeves Case 11-1 Citation Berardi v. Meadowbrook Mall Company. Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, 2002. Facts Between 1985 and 1987, the Berardis leased space for three restaurants from Meadowbrook. Once the consent judgment was signed by both parties and filed with the court, the letter pledged, no steps to enforce the judgment would be undertaken providing the Berardis continued to operate their three restaurants consistent with the then present payment arrangement. Mr. Berardi signed the letter on October 5, 1990. Correspondence was exchanged between counsel for the parties starting on at least April 22, 1997. Nevertheless, on October 2, 2000, the Berardis filed a complaint against Meadowbrook alleging that Meadowbrook breached the October 1990 agreement by attempting to enforce the 1990 Ohio judgments, that Meadowbrook extorted by duress and coercion the 1997 agreement, and that Meadowbrook and other business entities had conspired to
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Unformatted text preview: enter into extortionate agreements with their tenants. Meadowbrook sought summary judgment, which the circuit court granted. From this summary judgment, Berardi now appeals. Issue Did Berardi fail to prove economic duress? Decision Yes. Reason Summary judgment is not a remedy to be exercised at the circuit court's option. It must be granted when there is no genuine disputed issue of a material fact. Because an element of economic duress is present when many contracts are formed or releases given, the ability of a party to disown his obligations under a contract or release on that basis is reserved for extreme and extraordinary cases. Otherwise, the stronger party to a contract or release would routinely be at risk of having its rights under the contract or release challenged long after the instrument became effective....
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