Florida District Court of Appeal - 212 So. 2d 906
In the 1968 case Vokes v. Arthur Murray, Inc., Audrey Vokes, a 51-year-old widow, sued a dance school company and one of its franchisees, J.P. Davenport, for canceling several contracts for dance lessons and expenses. Vokes claimed that she was tricked into signing up for multiple dance courses by the constant praise of her dancing skills and progress. Vokes only realized she lacked talent after being ridiculed at a dance festival in Miami. She wanted to cancel the contracts and get her money back.
The trial court initially dismissed her complaint, but the appellate court reversed the decision, stating that Vokes had a valid reason for rescission based on fraud and misrepresentation. The court used the fraud test, which determines if one party intentionally deceives another through false statements or hiding important information.
The appellate court found that Vokes provided sufficient evidence that Davenport and his associates lied about her abilities, influencing her decision to sign the contracts. These statements were not opinions or exaggerations, but facts that could be proven true or false. The court argued that Davenport and his associates had an obligation to disclose the truth about Vokes' dancing skills.
This case is significant because it demonstrates the legal concept of fraud and misrepresentation, which allows for the cancellation of a contract if one party is deceived by another. Fraud and misrepresentation differ from mistake, duress or undue influence, and they emphasize the importance of trust and honesty in contracts.
The plaintiff, Vokes, alleges that she was deceived and defrauded by the defendants, Arthur Murray's School of Dancing, into purchasing over 2300 hours of dance lessons for over $31,000 through false statements, undue influence, and deceptive sales techniques. Vokes claims that the contracts should not be enforced due to the defendants' unconscionable conduct. The lower court dismissed Vokes' complaint, but the higher court reversed the decision, stating that contracts can be rescinded for fraud or misrepresentation, even if the alleged misrepresentation is an opinion or expectation. The court held that the plaintiff's complaint alleges enough factors to warrant her day in court, and the order dismissing her complaint with prejudice is reversed.
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