This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
In some jurisdictions a person who signs a written instrument in ignorance of its contents, but with an opportunity to read it and without reasonable excuse for omitting to read it, can not avoid the instrument, even if the adversary party misrepresented its contents and effect.1 Even between parties not in confidential relations there is much authority for the better rule, that such fraud prevents any contract from ever existing.2 As between persons in confidential relations the rule first given has no application.3 If a wife, in reliance upon her husband, executes an instrument such as an assignment of insurance 4 or a deed,5 the contents and nature of which she does not understand, and which conveys her rights contrary to her understanding of the transaction, fraud exists. Thus if an aunt, in whom her nephews repose great confidence, induces them to execute a deed conveying realty to her, by representing to them that it merely authorizes her to collect rents, they may avoid it even if they have signed it without reading it.6 If A has actual trust and confidence in B, and A executes a contract whereby A transfers to B a title to a certain fund, believing that such contract reserves the title to A and authorizes B to invest it, such misunderstanding of the legal effect of the contract is ground for rescission in equity.7 Even between persons in confidential relations, fraud in the execution does not exist by reason of a failure of the promisor to attend to the terms of a written contract which the promisor read, or which was read correctly to him. The relationship of parent and child does not excuse the parent for failure to give due attention to the terms of a written contract which is read over to her correctly and executed by her; and she can not avoid such contract.8
19Eldridge v. R. R., 88 Me. 191, 33 Atl. 974.
20Gordon v. Gordon, 3 Swanst. 400.
1See Sec. 231 et seq.
2See Sec. 233.
3Kahn v. Klaus, 64 Kan. 24, 67 Pac. 542; Witham v. Walsh, 156 Mich. 582, 121 N. W. 309.
4Way v. Ins. Go., 61 S. Car. 501, 39 S. E. 742.
5Chittenden v. Chittenden, 22 Ohio C. C. 498, 12 Ohio C. D. 526.
6Smith v. Smith, 134 N. Y. 62, 30 Am. St. Rep. 617, 31 N. E. 258.
7Witham v. Walsh, 156 Mich. 582, 121 N. W. 309.