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Duress in the News

According to New York Daily News, actor Terrence Howard successfully overturned the settlement he and his ex-wife made a few years ago.  The court found that his former wife extorted him into signing the agreement.  The article says she made threats to “scare him into thinking she would leak private details about him, including phone sex recordings with other women and a video of the actor dancing naked in a bathroom.”

North Carolina defines duress in contract matters as follows:

  1. One person induces (i.e., convinces) the another person to make a contract;
  2. by an unlawful or wrongful act (or the threat of the act)*; and
  3. under circumstances which deprive the person from exercising his or her free will.
  • The act threatened is “wrongful” if made with the corrupt intent to coerce a transaction grossly unfair to the victim.

Radford v. Keith, 160 N.C. App. 41 (2003) aff’d, 358 N.C. 136 (2004)

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