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Brizendine v. Conrad

Supreme Court of Missouri
71 S.W.3d 587 (2002)


Facts

David Brizendine (plaintiff) leased a low-income apartment building to Nora Conrad (defendant) for a term of 12 months. The parties intended Conrad to purchase the building at the end of the lease period. The lease required Conrad to pay Brizendine $15,000 at the execution of the lease, which would be credited toward Conrad’s purchase of the building at the end of the lease. The lease required Conrad to assume several maintenance duties for the property, to maintain it in good condition, and to return the property “in the same condition as received, ordinary wear and tear excepted” if Conrad did not purchase it at the end of the lease. Further, the lease stated that Conrad’s $15,000 payment would be retained as liquidated damages if Conrad failed to fulfill her lease obligations. At the end of the lease term, Conrad notified Brizendine that she would not purchase the property. Brizendine informed Conrad that the property was not in acceptable condition because it had extensive damage beyond normal wear and tear. Brizendine estimated that the cost to repair the damage done was $30,355. Rather than invest that sum of money to make the repairs, Brizendine took an offer from a new buyer and then sued Conrad under a statutory theory of waste. Conrad argued that she was not liable for waste because the lease’s liquidated-damages clause constituted a special license to commit waste under a state statute. The trial court found for Brizendine and awarded waste damages in the amount of approximately $11,000, based on the cost of repair. Pursuant to the waste statute’s provisions, the court then trebled the amount to approximately $33,000. Conrad appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Smith, J.)

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