K Hypo2: Parol Evidence

By Kerry Branch

Lucy and Ethel were talking over some coffee one day when the Lucy spotted an ad for a certain piece of property.

"Ethel, look!" Lucy exclaimed."This is perfect. Remeber how we always wanted to try our hands at running a restaurant?"

"Yeah, so?"

"Well, this gentleman wants to rent to someone who will run a restaurant on this property. That's us."

"Lucy, I don't know. This sounds like another one of your hare-brained schemes to me."

After a little convincing, Ethel decided to go along with Lucy in her first foray into the business world. They met with Mr. Smithers, a high-powered businesman who owned rental properties all over the city. Mr. Smithers offered to rent to them for a reasonable amount and said that he would install all new modern appliances to give them a warm send-off into their new restaurant venture. Lucy and Ethel agreed that this sounded like a terrific opportunity.

"Where do we sign?" Lucy asked excitedly.

"Well," Mr. Smithers drawled, "I just happen to have the lease here. Just sign at the bottom."

"Hey, Lucy," Ethel interrupted, "maybe we ought to read this thing. That's how all suckers are taken in the movies."

"Oh, Ethel, don't be so gullible. Look for yourself," she said, handing the lease to Ethel. "Everything's there, I'm sure of it. Mr. Smithers wouldn't cheat us."

"Oh, no, ladies, you can be quite sure of that," he said with a little smile.

Ethel paused while reading it. "Hey, it doesn't say anything about new appliances in here! What are you trying to pull?"

"Oh, that's because it doesn't fit into a normal lease. Looks odd, you know. What we have regarding the appliances is a separate oral agreement. If you don't believe me, ask old Mrs. McMurty on 42nd. I rented her diner to her and she's made quite a go of it."

Ethel was still suspicious. "On the same terms? New appliances and all of that?"

"Oh, yes, new appliances and everything," he said assuredly.

"Oh, Ethel, you're just getting cold feet," Lucy said. "Don't be such a stick-in-the-mud."

Lucy and Ethel signed the lease. They went over to the restaurant on the date the lease began and were surprised to find a new refrigerator and freezer but an old stove! A really old stove. One where the knobs were about to fall off.

"I won't be surprised to find a woodpile out back for this thing!" Lucy exclaimed in disgust. Lucy and Ethel contacted old Mrs. McMurty and discovered that she had had the same problem.

What are Lucy and Ethel's chances of introducing evidence of the oral agreement in court?

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