No matter if it is a contract between you and your father saying you are going to mow the lawn for the rest of your life, you absolutely need to be reading anything that you signature goes on. Many shady companies out there will try to sneak pretty much anything into a contract, and the moment that your signature is on that piece of paper, you are held and bound to the stipulations of that contract.
The below article is an unfortunate instance in which a gentleman that had every right intention, and sold land without reading or having a professional business litigation attorney look over his contract. He ended up loosing out of half a million dollars or more!
We have all signed contracts we did not thoroughly review. If we are
being honest, we have probably all signed contracts we didn’t even
read! While this is never a smart practice, the recent Texas Supreme
Court case, National Property Holdings, LP v. Westergren, highlights the severe consequences of not reading before you sign.
In this case, Westergren was involved in a multi-party lawsuit over the
right to purchase a parcel of land. He had an oral agreement with
National Property Holdings (NPH) to receive $1 million plus a share of
the profits upon the sale and development of the land. Once a portion of
the land sold, Westergren expected to receive his $1 million plus
profits; however, NPH could only pay him $500,000 at the time. Along
with the $500,000, Westergren was given a document to sign by NPH’s
consultant and told that it was a “receipt” and that he “didn’t have to
worry about it.” In fact, the document was titled an “Agreement and
Release” which released all of Westergren’s interest in the property and
all claims against NPH in exchange for the payment of $500,000.
Westergren did not read the document before signing it because, he
stated later, he had left his reading glasses “elsewhere” and was “in a
Westergren filed suit, and the case ultimately made its way to the
Texas Supreme Court. Unfortunately for Westergren, the Court ruled, “A
party to a written contract cannot justifiably rely on oral
misrepresentations regarding the contract’s unambiguous terms..This is
particularly true when the party had a reasonable opportunity to review
the written agreement, but failed to exercise ordinary care to do so.”
So, how can you avoid the same fate as Westergren?
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