Procedural Posture

Procedural Posture

Plaintiffs, the administrators of a decedent’s estate, sought to rescind an annuity that the decedent had purchased four months before her death based on a mistake of fact, namely, that the decedent was unaware at the time of the contract that she was terminally ill. The Marin County Superior Court, California, granted summary judgment in favor of defendant, the life insurance company that issued the annuity. Plaintiffs appealed.

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Plaintiffs asserted that the decedent would not have entered into the annuity contract but for a mistake of fact, specifically, the terminal illness she did not know she had. The court concluded that plaintiffs failed to establish an essential element for rescission based on mistake of fact. The decedent’s mistaken belief that she was in good health and had a reasonable life expectancy did not support a claim for rescission. The decedent bore the risk of the alleged mistake regarding her health and life expectancy at the time of the annuity contract. The allocation of this risk to the decedent was reasonable because such a risk was an inherent part of an annuity contract. Because plaintiffs could not establish an essential element of its rescission claim, summary judgment was proper. Although the court rejected plaintiffs’ arguments, because there was no California authority directly on point, it did not find them so wholly devoid of merit as to warrant the imposition of sanctions against plaintiffs.


The judgment was affirmed.