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Sonoma Dev., Inc. v. Miller

Supreme Court of Virginia
515 S.E.2d 577 (1999)


Facts

Alfred and Mary Schaer owned two lots, Lot 38 and Lot 39, in Alexandria, Virginia. In 1995, they sold Lot 38 to Girard and Lynn Miller (plaintiffs). There was a house on Lot 38, and Lot 39 stood vacant. The northern wall of the house intruded onto Lot 39 by approximately one inch. The contract of sale included a provision that the Schaers would enter a restriction into the deed of Lot 39 prohibiting construction of any improvements within three feet of the Lot 38 house. On June 30, 1995, the Schaers executed three documents: a deed conveying Lot 38 to the Millers, a “Declaration of Restriction” prohibiting any construction on Lot 39 within three feet of the Lot 38 house, and a “Declaration of Easement” allowing entry onto Lot 39 for the purpose of maintaining the Lot 38 house. The latter two documents mentioned the Schaers by name, but did not mention the Millers. Both documents were recorded with the local court. In 1997, Sonoma Development, Inc. (Sonoma) (plaintiff) purchased Lot 39 from the Schaers. The deed specified that the property was subject to easements and restrictive covenants. Sonoma soon built a house on Lot 39 within three feet of the Millers’ house. The Millers filed suit. The trial court held that there was a valid restrictive covenant on Lot 39, and ordered Sonoma to remove all improvements within three feet of the Millers’ house. Sonoma appealed, claiming that there was no horizontal privity between the Millers and the Schaers.

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Holding and Reasoning (Kinser, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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