Arkansas Supreme Court - 248 Ark. 1083
In Duncan v. Hensley (1970), the Arkansas Supreme Court reviewed an appeal case in which Joyce Hensley, the appellee, executed a deed and bill of sale to Graddy Duncan, the appellant, for 440 acres of real property and certain personal property. The complaint claimed that the sale instruments were executed due to threats of bodily harm and without consideration, and requested their cancellation.
The case is significant because it highlights the principles of fraud and duress in contract law, and how they can be proved by circumstantial evidence or by a combination of direct and circumstantial evidence. The court affirmed the trial court's decision to cancel the instruments, finding that Hensley was coerced by Duncan's threats of violence and that he took advantage of her weak mental capacity and financial situation. The court also held that the evidence regarding the financial condition of the parties and their relationship before their divorce decree was relevant and admissible.
The case demonstrates how a court of equity can intervene to correct an unconscionable act within its jurisdiction. The court stated that bad faith and unconscionable acts can receive no allowance or favor in a court of equity, and that the court can determine the real influences that led to the conveyance by considering the mental capacity of the parties, the circumstances surrounding them, their relationship, and so on.
This case involves an appeal from the cancellation of a quitclaim deed and bill of sale for 440 acres of real property and personal property. The Appellee alleges that the instruments were executed under duress and without consideration. The Appellants argue that the Chancellor erred by allowing testimony and evidence that was not related to the issues contained in the pleadings and by allowing testimony and evidence that pertained to issues predating August 1, 1968, when the divorce decree was entered. The Court rejected the Appellants' arguments and found that the documents were executed involuntarily and against the will of the Appellee, and therefore, they should be cancelled entirely. The Court found that the contracts were void due to the presence of duress and fraud.
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