At trial, both parties introduced expert evidence regarding the rancher’s capacity at the time of the transaction. The plaintiff’s expert concluded the elderly seller did not have capacity at the time of the transaction. Meanwhile, our expert concluded it was not possible to say the rancher was not mentally sound enough to make his own, informed decision.
Ultimately, while the trial judge found both expert reports helpful, he did not accept one opinion over the other. He emphasized considerable caution is required when deciding whether to accept “retroactive capacity assessments.” He instead based his decision on the elderly seller’s capacity from the evidence heard at trial. The judge ultimately agreed with the defendants and found the rancher had “decisional capacity” at the time of the transaction. Our clients were awarded the deed to the ranch.
This decision is an important reminder that an expert report is only as useful as the evidence it is based on. If one party submits an expert report based on information that is later contradicted or proven false, then the report may essentially become useless for the court.
Sellers and buyers must make sure their contracts, or gifts, are structured and executed with the help of a lawyer to prevent challenges from disgruntled third parties. If disputes arise, effective litigation counsel is needed. McLeod Law has experience in both preparing and disputing such contracts and gifts.