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A court of equity may award injunctive relief and actual and punitive damages as an adjunct to its equity jurisdiction.
When defendants Patrick W. Boss and Janet L. Boss agreed to sell a property fronting on the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, they represented that the plaintiff buyers James D. Forster and Joann Forster could obtain a permit for a boat dock in front of their newly acquired property. However, unbeknownst to the plaintiffs, the defendants had a boat-dock permit of their own that made it impossible for the Forsters to obtain the permit they had been promised. When the Forsters applied for a permit, their application was denied on the ground that the defendants already had a conflicting permit. Moreover, when the property was sold, defendants promised that they would remove their swim dock from in front of the transferred property. Defendants did not keep the promise. The Forsters filed a case against the defendants, alleging fraud and breach of contract. The jury awarded the buyers compensatory damages and punitive damages based on the defendants fraud regarding the conflicting permit and awarded damages for the breach of contract regarding the swim dock. The Forsters were also awarded permanent injunction ordering defendants to remove the offending swim dock. Subsequently, the Forsters also obtained the boat-dock permit. The defendants challenged the award of damages in favor of Forsters, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to support the same, and more importantly, the injunction had already made the latter whole.
The court found that the fraud verdict was supported by sufficient evidence that the value of the property transferred without the permit was a certain amount less than it would have been with the permit. The court refused to set aside the breach of contract verdict, although it was unable to ascribe a more precise value to the dock of substantial value. However, the court required the buyers to elect either damages, which paid them in full for the deprivation of their littoral rights or an injunction because the award of both was a double recovery. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded the judgment to the extent that it allowed the buyers to receive both compensatory damages and an injunction.