Interfering With Fence Installation Puts Neighbors On The Stand | NEIGHBOR LAW UPDATE

Interfering With Fence Installation Puts Neighbors On The Stand | NEIGHBOR LAW UPDATE

This week’s case involves a next-door neighbor husband-and-wife team who were sued by the people next door because they did not have all the facts right about their property line.

Tonia entered into a contract with a fence company to move her fence to the property line. When the installers arrived at Tonia’s home, the people next door came outside and told the fence company that there was a dispute about where the property line was located and that litigation was pending. As a result, the fence company refused to install the fence until Tonia hired a land surveyor to mark her property line with stakes. Tonia paid a land surveyor the sum of $375 to put stakes along her property line, exactly where Tonia had told them. The fence company moved the fence. Tonia sued the neighbors for $375.

The court ruled that, by their wrongful conduct, including misrepresentation, the husband and wife were liable to Tonia for tortious interference with her contract with the fence company, because Tonia was deprived of the benefit of her contract and, instead, had to incur the additional expense of $375 to have the contract performed by the fencing company.

This case provides a very simple illustration of a difficult type of claim that is usually seen in business disputes – TORTIOUS INTERFERENCE WITH CONTRACT.  To establish a valid claim in NY, a party must prove:

  • A valid agreement between at least two parties  (Tonia and the fence company);
  • That the interferer had knowledge of the agreement (neighbors knew that the fence was being installed);
  • That it was the wrongful interference that caused the breach of contract (fence company  would not work without survey – if the neighbors were being truthful then the company could have been sued for trespass; but the neighbors lied);
  • That the interference was intentional (neighbors intention to stop the work is clear); and
  • That the interference caused the damages ($375).

Here is the case: http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2018/2018_51046.htm

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