law-duress undue influence | capacity |
Duress is an affirmative defense in confession and avoidance of the affirmative defense of release. Brown v.
Cain Chem., Inc., 837 S.W.2d 239, 242-43 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 1992, writ denied). Generally, when
one coerces another to execute a contract by taking undue or unjust advantage of the person's economic
necessity or distress, the contract may be invalid or unenforceable. Wright v. Sydow, 173 S.W.3d 534, 543-44
(Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2004, pet. denied). This legal theory is called economic duress. Id. at 544. It
requires both the acts or conduct of the opposing party and the necessities of the alleged victim or his fear of
what a third person might do. Id. The victim's plight alone will not suffice; it must be coupled with the bad acts
of the transgressor. Id. The mere fact that a person enters into a contract with reluctance or as a result of the
pressure of business circumstances, financial embarrassment, or economic necessity does not, of itself,
constitute business compulsion or economic duress invalidating the contract. See First Texas Sav. Ass'n of
Dallas v. Dicker Ctr., Inc., 631 S.W.2d 179, 186 (Tex. App.-Tyler 1982, no writ).
What constitutes duress is a question of law for the court. Wright, 173 S.W.3d at 544. Economic duress
consists of (1) a threat to do something a party has no legal right to do, (2) an illegal exaction or some fraud or
deception, and (3) an imminent restraint that destroys the victim's free agency and leaves him without a
present means of protection. Id.
IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF ROSEZELLER WILLICH, DECEASED; from Henderson County; 12th
district (12-06-00409-CV, ___ SW3d ___, 12-21-07, pet. denied Jun 2008) motion to amend dismissed as
moot (probate, undue influence and Rosezellar lacked testamentary intent or capacity)
BRUCE Q. MARTIN v. DENISE L. MARTIN; from Grayson County;
5th district (05-07-01571-CV, 287 SW3d 260, 04-13-09, pet. denied Sep. 2009)
(enforceability of marital property agreement. fraud, duress)