Monday, March 16, 2009

The Curious Case of the Trespassing House

On the morning of October 8, the land under the Hillsdale house of Dave and Katei Hendrickson gave way. The collapsing hillside sent the house sliding down into the home of Dr. Yuan Chou and his wife, Siuke Tong.

Both houses were destroyed and others above Terwilliger Boulevard and beneath Burlingame Place were damaged.

Now we learn that what happened that morning wasn’t — appearances to the contrary — a "landslide."

What happened is that the Hendrickson house “trespassed” onto the property of Chou-Tong property.

Moreover, the Chou-Tong house was the victim of a “flying object,” namely the Hendricksons' house.

And the resulting destruction was a “private nuisance” and is subject to a claim called “strict liability.”

You guessed it. The whole sad landslide (or is it "landslide"?) story has created a litigation landslide.

Chou and Tong are suing the Hendricksons, their own insurance company and the insurance company’s agent for a total of $1.7 million.

And yes, you guessed again, the insurance company, Farmers, maintains that the Chou-Tong policy doesn’t cover landslides, which, insists Farmers, is what precisely happened on the morning of Oct. 8.

Oh, and Farmers also insures — and is defending — the Hendericksons. Flying house? Trespassing? Private nuisance?

Tell it to the judge!

You can read Shasta Kearns Moore’s mind-boggling account of the legal back-and-forth here on the Southwest Community Connection’s web site.

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