Grundy v. Thurston County

117 P.3d 1089 (2005)

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Grundy v. Thurston County

Washington Supreme Court
117 P.3d 1089 (2005)

Facts

Evelyne Grundy (plaintiff) purchased oceanfront property in 1981. The Brack Family Trust (Brack) (defendant) purchased adjacent land approximately 10 years later. At the time of these purchases, both properties had seawalls. Grundy’s seawall, however, was approximately a foot higher than Brack’s seawall. As a result, waters from Puget Sound routinely flooded a portion of Brack’s property during winter storms, while Grundy’s property remained dry. Several years after purchasing the property, Brack raised its seawall by more than 16 inches. After that, Brack’s property was no longer flooded during storms, but Grundy’s property was. Grundy sued Brack, arguing that Brack’s construction of the seawall created private nuisance that damaged and would continue to damage her property. Brack argued that the common-enemy doctrine, which allows each landowner to deal with surface waters on his or her property as the landowner pleases without facing liability from neighboring landowners, precluded Grundy’s private-nuisance claim. The trial court and the Washington Court of Appeals agreed with Brack. Grundy appealed to the Washington Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Ireland, J.)

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