Undue Influence Legal Definition

Keithley v. Civil Service Bd. (1970) 11 Cal. App. 3d 443 [89 Cal. Rptr. 809] distilled the principle of undue influence as being "the use of excessive pressure by a dominant person over a servient person resulting in the apparent will of the servient person being in fact the will of the dominant person." (Id. at p. 451.) The criteria which, when simultaneously present in a significant number determine the existence of undue influence, include an unusual or inappropriate time and location for discussing and consummating a contract; multiple negotiators for the dominant party and an absence of independent advisers for the servient party; and an insistence on immediate consummation of the contract without opportunity for third party review, coupled with excessive threats regarding the consequences of delay. (Id. at p. 452.) The fact-specific nature of this inquiry means the underlying facts in Keithley have little relevance (cf. State Compensation Ins. Fund v. Brown (1995) 32 Cal. App. 4th 188, 202 [38 Cal. Rptr. 2d 98]) and in any event present far more egregious circumstances: A police officer accused of rape, whose superiors ignored him for three days (during which time homicide officers interrogated him) before meeting with him to suggest that despite the charges being dropped he should resign for unbecoming conduct or else the matter would become public. (Keithley v. Civil Service Board, supra, 11 Cal. App. 3d at p. 447.)