Rick v. West Case Brief

Summary of Rick v. West, NY Supreme Ct., Westchester County (1962)

Parties: PL is land developed, who’s trying to sell land to hospital. DF is last landowner standing on original 62 acres of land and will not sell her home and land for PL’s sale of land.

Cause of action/remedy sought: The following is a legal action for rescission of the original covenant due to changed conditions.

Procedural History: Trial court held for DF’s. This court affirms.

Facts: DF is last landowner standing on original 62 acres of land and will not sell her home and land for PL’s sale of land. PL is subsequent grantee of fee simple in a large, who is trying to sell the land in question (including DF’s property) to a hospital, but she refuses. PL wants to get PL off the land and order her to sell the land as it is no longer bound by the covenant.

Issue(s): Under NY property law, is the refusal of an originally covenanted party to a tract of land to sell back to the grantor that tract in order for the grantor to sell the land in total to another party allowable by the assertion that the covenanted party agreed to use the land for residential purposes and has no strayed from the covenant’s terms?

Holding: Yes. When one owner of a group of many decides to enforce its restrictive covenant to the point that the original grantor cannot benefit from the sale or use of the entire property, it is the right of the covenanted party to be protected at law

Court’s Rationale/Reasoning: Equities balanced in DF’s favor. When original PL decided to grant residences to others, he included the covenants. Defendant relied upon this representation and has a right to continue to rely upon them (equitable estoppel). Court said this is not a matter of equity for the hospital but for the landowner, as despite her insistence in remaining on the land, she deserves to be protected by the original covenant.

Rule: By the settle doctrine of equity, restrictive covenants in respect of land will enforced by preventive remedies while the violation is still in prospect, unless the attitude of the complaining owner in standing on his covenant is unconscionable or oppressive. Relief is not withheld b/c the money damage is unsubstantial or even none at all.

Did court avoid issues?: No.

Dicta: No.

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