Sunday, April 28, 2013

Peckham v. Milroy case brief

Peckham v. Milroy case brief summary
17 P.3d 1256

CASE SYNOPSIS: Appellant began operating a day-care in their residence. A restrictive covenant prohibited home businesses in the neighborhood, and appellant's property was subject to the covenant. Respondent sued to enjoin the day-care operation. The Superior Court, Spokane County (Washington) concluded that the day-care was a business, the respondent had an equitable right to enforce the covenant, and enjoined appellant from operating the day care.

ANALYSIS: On appeal, the appellant contended that the trial court erred by enjoining the appellant's day-care business because the restrictive covenant was abandoned, or violated public policy. Appellant also asserted the defenses of laches and equitable estoppel. The court rejected appellant's arguments. While there was evidence of other home businesses in the neighborhood, these violations were neither habitual nor substantial, and therefore did not constitute abandonment of the covenant. Additionally, appellant did not demonstrate material changes in neighborhood to defeat enforcement of the covenant. Appellant asserted that the respondent knew about the plans to operate a day-care in the residence, but delayed filing his action; therefore the doctrines of laches and equitable estoppel barred the suit. Appellant failed to establish the elements either defense. The trial court found that the respondent did not unreasonably delay the suit, took no actions inconsistent with his position at trial, and was not silent in his concerns over the operation of the day-care. The court found no proof that public policy prevented enforcement of the covenant.

CONCLUSION: Judgment affirmed. The court affirmed the court's order to enjoin the appellant from operating the day care. The trial court's findings were amply supported by the evidence, and supported the trial court's conclusions of law that the covenant had not been abandoned through disuse. The court also found that neither laches nor estoppel barred the respondent's claim. The covenants also did not violate public policy.

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