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Imperial Colliery Co. v. Fout

Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia
373 S.E.2d 489 (W. Va. 1988)



Danny Fout (defendant) was a coal miner employed by Milburn Colliery (Milburn) and was engaged in a labor strike against the company. Prior to and during the strike, Fout leased a house from Imperial Colliery Company (Imperial) (plaintiff). Fout signed a written lease with one of Imperial's agents in June 1983; the lease provided for a primary term of one month and stated that the lease could be terminated by either party upon one month's notice. In February 1986, Imperial told Fout that his lease would be terminated at the end of March 1986. Fout's attorney advised Imperial in a letter that Fout was not able to move out as of that date, and Imperial agreed to a two-month extension of the lease. Fout's attorney asked for a further extension, but Imperial eventually brought suit for possession of the property. Fout alleged that Milburn and Imperial were interrelated companies and asserted a defense of retaliatory eviction because of Fout's participation in the strike against Milburn. The trial court granted Imperial's motion for summary judgment. The court noted that a retaliatory-eviction defense must relate to the tenant's exercise of his rights as tenant and found that Fout's participation in the strike was unrelated to his tenancy. The court awarded possession of the property to Imperial, and Fout appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Miller, J.)

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