In Vino, and Contracts, Veritas

     BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. (CN) – A Saratoga man was “blind stinking drunk” when he leased his property near a popular lake to a seasonal food-vending business, his lawyer claims in court.
     The lawsuit in Saratoga County Supreme Court claims that Kent Daniels and Kent’s Crazy Horse took advantage of an intoxicated Michael Nosal, and “duped” him into signing the document.
     Nosal sued alongside his sister, Mary Nosal.
     “At the time Michael J. Nosal entered into the subject lease, he was severely intoxicated by reason of alcohol consumption to the extent that his judgment was impaired to such a degree that as to render him incompetent and lacking the capacity to validly and bindingly execute contracts,” the complaint states.
     As a result, “he did not understand its nature, consequences, nor its implications.”
     The hand-written agreement, included as an exhibit to the complaint, says the Crazy Horse Canteen has the exclusive right to operate a mobile food-vending business on the Nosal property on Route 9P, which is located southeast of the city of Saratoga Springs and adjacent to Saratoga Lake.
     Signed by Daniels and Michael Nosal, it says the business will operate weather-permitting, and at special events or festivals.
     The Nosals now seek to cancel that contract, and collect $175,000 in damages, for fraudulent inducement and other claims.
     According to an affidavit Mary Nosal filed in connection with the lawsuit, she was not aware of any agreement until earlier this month, when Daniels showed up at the property and “began to set up shop.”
     She says he erected a gazebo, a fence and 24 picnic tables – the latter secured by concrete posts sunk into the ground.
     The Jan. 20 hand-written agreement came to light only after “several verbal altercations” with Daniels, according to the affidavit.
     “I was completely shocked to learn of the existence of such a document and had no previous idea that such a writing had been prepared in light of my rejection of the defendant(s) prior proposal,” her affidavit states.
     Mary Nosal says Daniels had approached her late last year to ask whether she would be interested in leasing him land adjacent to her home for a food stand. “After several discussions, I turned him down and rejected his proposals for a variety of reasons,” her affidavit states.
     The Nosals’ property sits on Route 9P, which hugs Saratoga Lake’s eastern shore and is a short distance from Saratoga Lake Marine Park, a state park with a public boat launch and parking for up to 100 trailers. Though Saratoga Lake is popular with boaters and fishermen, much of its shoreline is privately owned.
     Mary Nosal’s affidavit says she began to piece together how Daniels obtained the deal when she spoke to her brother, whom she describes as having “a severe drinking problem.”
     “During a night of extremely heavy drinking, among other things, the defendant(s) duped my brother into signing the document which the defendant(s) now claims is a binding contract between the parties,” according to the affidavit.
     “The defendant(s) totally exploited the situation by taking advantage of my brother’s alcohol abuse in order to inveigle his way onto the property to pursue a business opportunity,” her affidavit states. “The actions of the defendant(s) were calculated, unscrupulous and insidious.”
     In a separate affidavit, the Nosals’ attorney, Lawrence Kirsch of Albany, says the Jan. 20 document is invalid both because Michael Nosal was “blind stinking drunk” when he signed it and because “the terms of the writing are extremely vague and ambiguous and lack definiteness of its terms.”
     Even if it were a valid lease, “the defendant’s actions have far exceeded the scope of the terms of this writing,” Kirsch’s affidavit states. “For example, nowhere in this writing does it state that the defendant has a right to erect a fence on the property or a gazebo with permanent concrete footings or install 24 tabletops with permanent concrete poles in the ground.”
     The affidavit contends Daniels misled town officials when he presented the business as seasonal but then put up structures with concrete footings.
     Indeed, minutes from a February meeting of the town of Saratoga Planning Board indicate that the board believed the business “will be open six months each year and then move out until the following year.”
     “In order to protect the rights of my clients, it is necessary to restrain and enjoin the defendant(s) from taking any further or future action with respect to the property owned by my clients,” Kirsch states in his affidavit. “Without such relief the rights of my clients will be impaired and defeated.”
     Kirsch’s affidavit also says tensions between the Nosals and Daniels have mounted, with Daniels having twice summoned the police.
     “There simply is no telling what might occur next, given the proximity of the defendant(s) to my clients on the same property where plaintiffs reside,” the affidavit states. “Clearly, to continue on without judicial interventions seems like a recipe for disaster.”

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