Monday, January 6, 2014

Isbey v. Crews case brief

Isbey v. Crews case brief summary
284 S.E.2d 534 (1981)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Defendants appealed from a decision of the District Court of Buncombe County (North Carolina) that entered summary judgment for plaintiffs in an action for breach of a lease agreement. Defendants argued that there was an issue of material fact as to whether plaintiffs unreasonably refused to consent to a sublease.

CASE FACTS
  • Crews (D) leased office space from Isbey (P) for a term of five years. 
  • According to the lease, the premises could not be used for any purpose other than as a doctor’s office and for a dialysis unit without the consent of the plaintiff. 
  • Furthermore, Crews could not assign, sublease, or alter any part of the premises without consent. 
  • Slightly less than four years into the lease, Crews vacated and sought to sublease the premises to a medical supply company. 
  • Isbey refused to consent to the sublease and sought to recover one-month’s unpaid rent. 
  • The lower court granted Isbey summary judgment.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Plaintiffs brought action against defendants to recover damages for breach of a lease agreement. The trial court entered summary judgment for plaintiffs.

ARGUMENT
On appeal, defendants argued that an issue of material fact existed as to whether plaintiffs unreasonably refused to consent to a sublease proposed by defendants.

DISCUSSION

  • The court refused to read into the lease agreement an obligation on the part of plaintiffs to not unreasonably withhold consent to a subtenant. 
  • The court found that defendants breached their agreement with plaintiffs when they refused to make rental payments. 
  • The court held, therefore, that plaintiffs were entitled as a matter of law to recover damages for such breach. 
  • The court also found no evidence that plaintiffs failed to exercise reasonable diligence to relet the premises after defendants breached the lease agreement. 
  • Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the trial court.

CONCLUSION
The court affirmed a trial court decision entering summary judgment for plaintiffs in an action on a lease. The court held that the record disclosed that defendants breached their agreement with plaintiffs when they refused to make the rental payment, thus, plaintiffs were entitled as a matter of law to recover damages for such breach. The court also found no evidence that plaintiffs failed to exercise reasonable diligence to relet the premises.

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