Neighbors Allegedly Leave Mentally Disabled Man Homeless After Convincing Him To Sign Over Home For $10

In Florida, a family is dealing with a shocking account from their relative, Michael Dever, a mentally ill man living in West Boca Raton. They say that Michael (who suffers from a paranoia disorder) was befriended by his neighbors and then taken advantage of by selling his house to them for $10.

The attorney for the neighbors insists that it was a valid and enforceable deal but refuses to answer any further questions.

Michael’s cousin, Keith Costello, says that Michael suffers from delusions and that the house was the only thing he had in this life. He says the Michael called him in a panic, saying he had no where to live. He did not know at the time about the deal.

The deed was signed over on June 17. Once Michael arrived at his cousin’s home he attempted to commit suicide and was placed in a mental hospital. It was only months later after therapy and medication that Michael told his cousin about the deal.

Michael owned the house outright and it was worth $64,000.

He is not getting much support from his neighbors. The reporter below says that neighbors blame it on Michael with one yelling “He’s the one that made the arrangements, he got the attorney, ask them!” Nice.

Michael Devers is now living in a YMCA in Maine.

Clearly, you cannot contract with a mentally disturbed person who is not competent to make such a deal. There are cases of realtors who have lost their licenses over such transactions. The standard is no different for lawyers. Presumably, if this deed sale was for more than $10 or some other nominal amount, the neighbors would have released the information. As it stands, there is ground for a criminal investigation. Moreover, if an attorney was involved and these facts stay on unchallenged, there could be a bar action. The first step is to challenge the deed transfer as invalid on the grounds of incompetence.

After the Supreme Court handed down its decision in O’Connor v. Donaldson in 1975, states were ordered that they cannot involuntarily hold a person who is not imminently a danger to himself or others and able to survive on his own. That decision ended abuses across the country and allowed mentally disabled individuals to have functional lives. In any such case, there can be problems particularly if an individual does not receive or take necessary medication. It appears that Devers was functional but had such lapses.

Given his state of mind, it is important to hear the other side and it is distressing to read that the neighbors are not responding. It remains hard for me to believe that there are human beings who would commit such an act and I am hoping to hear that the deed was transferred for some figure closer to $64,000. However, despite extensive coverage, there has been no conflicting information released or any response that I know of at this time. If these facts are correct, this is an especially outrageous abuse of a disabled person and an act worthy of criminal investigation. They could also be sued in tort for intentional infliction of emotional distress and fraud. They could then face a considerable potential liability and even risk losing their home.

If anyone sees any response from the accused neighbors, please send it along. I will try to follow this story.

Source: WPTV

Jonathan Turley

25 thoughts on “Neighbors Allegedly Leave Mentally Disabled Man Homeless After Convincing Him To Sign Over Home For $10”

  1. Pete,

    don’t you know they cannot execute a mentally disabled person. This is a fact…it is true…Now what they can do, is force the medicine in you to make you stable, so that they can then kill you. Geeze…why is that so hard to understand…

    Frankly, I find it morally reprehensible…..but not a single soul asked me to opine but I did it anyways….

  2. I understand what Mespo is saying about the two-sided finger pointing that is bound to happen, but I smell a rat. This ill individual was taken advantage of and it seems that the neighborhood and possibly the lawyer were involved up to their necks.
    AY, I think Florida is trying to eclipse Texas as one of my least favorite places to live.

  3. Mike Appleton 1, September 3, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    I agree with mespo that the facts will prove to be quite messy. I have handled this sort of litigation in the past, and such instances of overreaching are not all that uncommon. If the lawyer who represented the “buyers” doesn’t have solid documentation, including a bona fide contract for sale and purchase, the Bar may well get involved. It would be very interesting to see the paperwork on this deal.
    ________________________________________

    Mr. Appleton do you think the neighbors were unaware of the mans mental incapacity? And if not, solid and bona fide papers …wouldn’t they be considered ‘evidence’…?

  4. ‘The attorney for the neighbors insists that it was a valid and enforceable deal but refuses to answer any further questions.’
    ~there is a reputation here in SFla regarding lawyers that is less than pleasant.

    ‘Michael owned the house outright and it was worth $64,000.’

    This story needs more research….there hasn’t been a house in Boca worth 64,000.00 for a veeeeeeeeeeerryyyyyyyy loooooong time.

  5. I agree with mespo that the facts will prove to be quite messy. I have handled this sort of litigation in the past, and such instances of overreaching are not all that uncommon. If the lawyer who represented the “buyers” doesn’t have solid documentation, including a bona fide contract for sale and purchase, the Bar may well get involved. It would be very interesting to see the paperwork on this deal.

  6. Pete,

    This story took place in Florida, not Texas. 😉 But I’m with you in the incredulity department.

  7. let me get this straight, it’s ok to strap a mentally disabled person to a gurney and run poison into his veins till his death but don’t scam him out of his property.

  8. Good morning, AY . .. I was going to rush to your defense yesterday but didn’t know if you would want that … the dude totally misunderstood your post!

  9. Taking advantage of the disabled is a particularly vile action.

    I just talked to Dante and the neighbors have a very special seat reserved for them as to the lawyer involved in the transaction.

    But I sincerely hope that Earthly justice deals with them first.

    Harshly. As soon as possible.

    Especially since Hell doesn’t exist except as an abstract that men use as a tool to control other men with through fear.

    I want to see prison time all around!

    And that is all I have to say about that.

  10. If the facts are as they are claimed then some folks have an awful lot of explaining to do Lucy…..

  11. I think there are certain situations where the legal system simply can not work as efficiently, nor with as much justice, as a few aggrieved family members armed with baseball bats.

    This sort of thing simply does not occur in, shall we say, New England Italian neighborhoods.

  12. ” It’s going to be a doozy and a true insight into the underbelly of the human condition.”

    which typically shows it’s ugly head during tough times. Tough times usually separate the decent people from the shitbums so everyone can tell the truly human from those who are just pretending.

  13. What we have now is the untimely word of a person non compos mentis versus silence from the other side, plus the usual language in the deed that the transfer was for “$10.00 plus other good and valuable consideration.” It’s easy enough to find the true sales price by determining the taxes paid on the transaction and calculating backwards. This may be over-reaching by the purchasers and only the facts will tell, but I suspect we will have a claim that the purchasers provided vital services to the alleged incompetent man in exchange for the realty. The incompetent’s family will claim he was taken advantage of by the neighbors, and the neighbors will defend saying the incompetent’s family was distant and uncaring, and, ironically, now seek to do what they claim against the neighbors — i.e. take advantage of the homeless man. I wouldn’t get my hopes up on either side. It’s going to be a doozy and a true insight into the underbelly of the human condition.

Comments are closed.