Burke v. Smith

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Burke v. Smith
Court Michigan Supreme Court
Citation 37 N.W. 838,69 Mich. 380
Date decided April 20, 1888

Facts

  • Mr. Burke built 2 houses on 1 parcel in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
  • Burke's houses were less than 2 feet away from Mr. Smith's parcel.
  • Burke planned to rent out the 2 houses on his parcel.
  • Smith built 2 11-foot spite fences between his & Burke's parcel.

Procedural History

  • Burke sued Smith seeking to remove Smith's spite fences.
  • Burke argued that he had an easement of light & air.
  • Burke won.

Issues

May a property owner use the property in a way to intentionally injure a neighbor's rights if that use is undertaken strictly for malicious purposes & provides the owner with no benefit?

Arguments

  • Burke argued that the spite fences lowered his property values.
  • Smith argued for his own privacy; he argued that he didn't want anyone to look into his windows.

Holding

No; a property owner may not use the property in a way to intentionally injure a neighbor's rights if that use is undertaken strictly for malicious purposes and provides the owner with no benefit.

Judgment

Affirmed

Comments

  • 2 justices dissented in this ruling.

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