Justice J. Wilson’s decision in Ferraton v. Shular is a cautionary tale about how important it is to choose someone trustworthy to be your Attorney for Property.
In 2006, Gary Shular inherited his mother’s property. Mr. Shular had a history of mental illness and depression. After two years, the property had been neglected. Mr. Shular’s friend, Ms. Ferraton, offered to fix up the property and sell it. In exchange, she wanted 50% of the selling price. The parties signed a contract to those terms.
After investing a mere $2,115 in the property, Ms. Ferraton listed the property for sale as Mr. Shular’s Attorney for Property. After deductions, Mr. Shular received $140,000 from the sale. Mr. Shular refused to pay Ms. Ferraton half of the proceeds, being $70,000. Instead, he repaid her the investment of $2,115 in the repairs, and gave her an additional $20,000 for her assistance.
Ms. Ferraton sued Mr. Shular for an additional $32,000.
Mr. Shular’s history of mental illness and depression was central to Justice J. Wilson’s finding that Ms. Ferraton took advantage of Mr. Shular:
“Ms. Ferraton was well aware of Mr. Shular’s emotional frailties and history, and took advantage of his passivity and listless attitude towards the property during a period of deep depression. What appears to have begun as an act of friendship, matured into a plan to profit from the situation and to take advantage of Mr. Shular’s emotional state and apathy.”
Justice Wilson found that the contract was unconscionable, and was therefore unenforceable.