Daughter claims cell tower owner ripped off incapacitated mom

Kelly Holleran Jan. 29, 2012, 11:28am

The daughter of a Sour Lake woman has filed suit against the owners of a cell phone tower, alleging the company wrongly amended a lease agreement with her mother causing her mother to lose out on thousands of dollars.

Cristi Arthur alleges her mother, Gloria Mount, had originally been granted fee ownership of property at 8727 College St. in Beaumont on Feb. 22, 2001. A cell phone tower was located on the property, according to the complaint filed Jan. 18 in Jefferson County District Court. Defendant American Tower was paying Mount $605 per month to utilize the property, the suit states.

In 2006, Mount became mentally incapacitated and began making numerous financial errors. For example, she wrote 35 "insufficiently funded" checks, the complaint says.

Following Mount's mental downfall, American Tower wanted to meet with her to amend her original contract, the suit states. However, Arthur claims she warned American Tower of her mother's mental state and told the company that she would not be able to sign a new contract, according to the complaint.

Still, American Tower representatives met with Mount on June 25, 2009. During the meeting, Mount signed a contract that substantially limited the amount of money she was to receive for use of her land, the suit states.

"The amendment eliminated the monthly payments completely and extended the term by 10 years for the unconscionable one-time payment of $3,710," the complaint says. "Additionally, Plaintiff's signature on the Amendment is not properly notarized."

In her complaint, Arthur wants the court to void her mother's amended contract, saying her mother lacked the state of mind and memory to understand what she was truly signing. Arthur also alleges American Tower violated the Deceptive Trade Practices Act by taking advantage of her mother "to a grossly unfair degree," the suit states.

Arthur is seeking a judgment that the amendment is void. She also is seeking attorney's fees, post-judgment interest, costs and other relief the court deems just.

Jennifer M. Turner of Orgain, Bell and Tucker in Beaumont will be representing her.

The case has been assigned to Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court.

Case No. E191-674

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