In re Hoskins

405 B.R. 576 (2009)

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In re Hoskins

United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of West Virginia
405 B.R. 576 (2009)

  • Written by Tammy Boggs, JD

Facts

Larry and Pamela Hoskins (collectively, Hoskins) (debtors) owned 364 acres of rural land in West Virginia. The prior owner of Hoskins’s land had long allowed Mr. Kungle to access an old, dilapidated cabin on the land for hunting and recreation purposes. Hoskins continued to allow Kungle’s access. In 1997 or 1998, with Hoskins’s agreement, Kungle constructed a larger, nicer cabin at his own expense on the Hoskins’s property. Larry assisted Kungle with labor and other services. Hoskins declined to sell any land to Kungle, and the parties did not reach an agreement on the precise nature of Kungle’s right to use the new cabin. Thereafter, Kungle’s use of the new cabin became a problem; Hoskins maintained that Kungle was excessively using the cabin. As of November 7, 2004, Hoskins disallowed Kungle from further access to the new cabin. In 2008, Hoskins filed for bankruptcy. Kungle submitted a claim against the bankruptcy estate for the value of the new cabin under a theory of unjust enrichment. There was no dispute that the new cabin had increased Hoskins’s property value, but Hoskins argued that he would prefer for the cabin to be removed from his property altogether and that it was of no value to him personally. Kungle’s expert and Hoskins’s expert opined that the cabin had increased Hoskins’s property value by $68,000 and around $41,000, respectively, as of August 25, 2007. The bankruptcy court had to determine the merits of Kungle’s claim and a proper remedy, if any.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Flatley, J.)

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