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Current Developments in the Commercial Divisions of the
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Posted: November 12, 2016

Inability to Read English Does Not, Without More, Excuse Failure to Understand Contract

On November 2, 2016, the Second Department issued a decision in Nerey v. Greenpoint Mortgage Funding, Inc., 2016 NY Slip Op. 07167, holding that the inability to read English does not, without more, excuse a party’s failure to understand the contract, explaining:

A party who executes a contract is presumed to know its contents and to assent to them. An inability to understand the English language, without more, is insufficient to avoid this general rule. It is incumbent upon such parties to make a reasonable effort to have the contract read to them, and they will be bound by their signatures unless the contents of the document were misread or misrepresented to them. Here, the plaintiffs’ submissions demonstrated that, despite having an interpreter present at the closing, they made no effort to have the mortgage documents translated. Accordingly, the plaintiffs failed to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether they justifiably relied on any earlier representations by Park regarding the mortgage terms.

(Internal quotations and citations omitted).

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