Monday, November 25, 2013

Noone v. Price case brief

Noone v. Price case brief summary
298 S.E.2d 218 (W. Va. 1982)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Appellant homeowners challenged an order from the Circuit Court of Fayette County (West Virginia), which determined that the appellee neighbor owed a duty of lateral support to the adjoining land, and granted summary judgment in neighbor's favor.

CASE FACTS
The homeowners claimed that summary judgment was improperly granted to the neighbors because although the trial court correctly stated the rule of law, it applied it incorrectly to the homeowners' situation.

DISCUSSION

  • The court found that the lower court had improperly awarded summary judgment because the homeowners should have been allowed to prove that their land was sufficiently strong in its natural state to support the weight of their house, and that the deterioration of the retaining wall caused successive parts of the hillside to subside until the ripple effect reached the foundation of their house. 
  • The neighbors should therefore have been held liable for negligence in removing the support required by their dwelling. 
  • The court stated that, in order to recover, the homeowners had to prove that the disrepair of the retaining wall would have led ineluctably to the subsidence of their land in its natural condition. 
  • If, on the other hand, the land would not have subsided but for the weight of the house, then the homeowners would recover nothing.

CONCLUSION
The court held that there was insufficient facts in the record so reversal and remand was required. In addition, the court held that the trial court would have to determine if an adjacent landowner had an obligation only to support his neighbor's property in its raw or natural condition, or if the adjacent landowner was liable for both the damage to the land and the damage to any buildings that might be on the land.

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