Favorable Defense Verdict in Property Damage Jury Trial
March 2, 2012
A jury reached a favorable defense verdict in an eight-day trial for alleged real property damage in a case handled by Nanette G. Reed with Katherine A. Winder assisting on law and motion. The plaintiff first asked the jury to award $1,319 million. By closing, the amount was reduced to $965,000, yet the plaintiff only received a $3,500 verdict with $1,500 being allocated to Murchison & Cumming’s client, SK Construction.
The defendants, owners of a lot adjacent to the plaintiff’s property, hired defendant and cross-defendant SK Construction. The plaintiff alleged trespass, conversion and unjust enrichment against the defendants, and the defendants filed a cross-complaint against SK Construction.
The first trespass allegation arose from the temporary placement of a large amount of dirt on the plaintiff’s undeveloped property. The dirt was removed by SK Construction within three days. The plaintiff then contended that the defendants performed illegal excavation on his property in order to increase the adjacent lot’s property value over a period of two years. In addition, the plaintiff alleged driveway encroachment.
The court granted directed verdicts on two of the three claims, allowing only the trespass claim to go to the jury. As SK Construction admitted the initial massive dirt dumping, the jury awarded $1,500 to the plaintiff. The defendant lot owners admitted the driveway encroachment and received a $2,000 penalty. Both defendants will be allowed to seek recoverable costs on all expert fees based on the pre-trial CCP 998 Offer to Compromise.
Nanette G. Reed