Odorizzi v. Bloomfield School Dst Case Brief

Summary of Odorizzi v. Bloomfield School Dst
CA Ct of App 54 Ca Rpt 533 [1964]

Avoidance of the K: Undue Influence

Relevant Facts: Pl, Odorizzi was employed as an elementary teacher by Df under K to teach the following yr as a permanent employee. Pl was arrested for homosexual activity. The principal and superintendent came to his apartment after his release from jail. They stated he should immediately resign, there was no time to consult an atty, and if he did not resign immediately the District would suspend and dismiss him and publize the proceedings, his arrest, and cause him “to suffer extreme embarrassment and humiliation."

Legal Issue(s): Whether Pl teacher's complaint alleging that school officials came to his apartment just after he had been underwent arrest, police questioning, booking and release on bail and had gone 40 hours without sleep and told him that he should resign immediately, that there was no time to consult an attorney, and that if he did not resign immediately he would be suspended and dismissed and that resultant publicity would cause him extreme embarrassment and humiliation stated cause of action for rescission on ground of undue influence.

Court’s Holding: YES

Procedure: Sup Ct sustained Df’s demurrer; Pl Appealed; Ct of App Reversed

Law or Rule(s): Undue influence includes taking an unfair advantage of another’s weakness of mind; or taking a grossly oppressive and unfair advantage of another’s necessities or distress.

Court Rationale: The Facts in the amended complaint are insufficient to state a COA for duress, menace, fraud, or mistake, but they do set out sufficient elements to justify rescission b/c of undue influence. Undue Influence is a shorthand legal phrase used to describe persuasion which tends to be coercive in nature, and which overcomes the will w/o convincing the judgment. In essence it involves excessive pressure to persuade one vulnerable to such pressure, pressure applied by a dominant subject to a servient subject. U I may consist of total weakness of mind, physical condition, emotional anguish/turmoil, exhaustion, or a combination. Thus weaknesses determine that a lessened capacity of the object to make a free K exists. The application of excessive strength by a dominant over a servient subject is the second element. The representatives of the Dist undertook to achieve their objective by overpersuasion and imposition to secure Pl’s signature, but not his consent to his resignation through high pressure carrot and stick technique.

Plaintiff’s Argument: The Pl’s free will was overcome by the tactics used by the Dfs at a time when Pl was under severe mental and emotional strain.

Defendant’s Argument: Pl freely signed the resignation w/o duress, mistake, menance or fraud.

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