Butler v. Bruno

341 A.2d 735 (1975)

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Butler v. Bruno

Rhode Island Supreme Court
341 A.2d 735 (1975)

Facts

The Butlers (plaintiffs) purchased a summer home in 1961. In 1969, Joseph Bruno (defendant) purchased the adjacent, undeveloped lot located along the eastern boundary of the Butler property. Bruno’s lot was lower in elevation than the Butler property and was swampy. According to neighbors who would later testify in court, the Butlers’ property was typically dry. Not long after buying the property, Bruno spread three feet of gravel on the lot, built a retaining wall, and constructed a home on it. Once Bruno spread gravel on his lot, the Butlers’ property began flooding, and sewage backed up into their home. The Butlers sued Bruno. The trial court adopted a modified version of the common-enemy doctrine and rejected the Butlers’ claim, noting that Bruno had used reasonable care when developing his property and had not unnecessarily injured the Butlers. The Butlers appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kelleher, J.)

Dissent (Joslin, J.)

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