Yeakel v. Driscoll

321 Pa. Super. 238 (1983)

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Yeakel v. Driscoll

Pennsylvania Supreme Court
321 Pa. Super. 238 (1983)

LJ

Facts

John and Mary Driscoll (defendants) and Mary Yeakel (plaintiff) owned adjoining parcels of real estate located in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The Driscolls and Yeakel each occupied one-half of a double home that contained a party wall providing separation between the properties. The shared deck was likewise divided by a cinderblock wall. The Driscolls obtained building permits from the city to enclose their rear porch. As a condition of the building permit, the city required that the Driscolls construct a firewall between the properties. The Driscolls then constructed a firewall over the area where the cinderblock wall had previously existed. In September 1979, Yeakel wrote a letter to the local newspaper complaining about the appearance of the improvements. That same month, Yeakel’s attorney wrote a letter to the Driscolls complaining about the improvements. In October 1979, Yeakel filed a complaint in equity alleging that the firewall encroached several inches onto her property. As relief, Yeakel requested that the Driscolls be restrained from entering her property, that the firewall be removed, and that the Driscolls be enjoined from further interfering with Yeakel’s use and enjoyment of her property. At trial, it was determined that the Driscolls had discussed their plans to construct the improvements with Yeakel’s son, who was the prior owner of the property. At the time of the conversation, the Driscolls testified that they believed that the son was the current owner because he continued to reside on the property and they were not aware of any sale between Yeakel and her son. Testimony further established that Yeakel’s son had consented to the Driscolls’ removal of a wooden frame as part of the construction of the wall. It was ultimately determined that there was an encroachment of approximately two inches spanning the length of approximately 12 feet. The chancellor held that the encroachment was de minimis and dismissed the complaint. Yeakel asserted that she suffered real damages as a result of the encroachment. Specifically, Yeakel contended that since the construction of the firewall, her basement became saturated with water during heavy rainfall. The chancellor found no nexus between the water damage and the construction of the firewall. Yeakel filed an appeal.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Watkins, J.)

Dissent (Brosky, J.)

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