Law School Case Brief
Golden Press, Inc. v. Rylands - 124 Colo. 122, 235 P.2d 592 (1951)
Where the encroachment is deliberate and constitutes a willful and intentional taking of another's land, equity may well require its restoration regardless of the expense of removal as compared with damage suffered therefrom; but where the encroachment was in good faith, the court should weigh the circumstances so that it shall not act oppressively. While the mere balance of convenience is not the proper test, yet relative hardship may properly be considered and the court should not become a party to extortion. Where defendant's encroachment is unintentional and slight, plaintiff's use not affected and his damage small and fairly compensable, while the cost of removal is so great as to cause grave hardship or otherwise make its removal unconscionable, mandatory injunction may properly be denied and plaintiff relegated to compensation in damages.
Plaintiffs Rylands and Reid owned a parcel of land fronting on West Colfax Avenue, Jefferson County. The land consisted of their residence, a garage, and some rental cottages. Defendant Golden Press, Inc., constructed a one-story brick and cinder block business building on its property which adjoined plaintiffs' property on the east. According to plaintiffs' survey, which was unchallenged, the west wall of defendant's building was two inches clear of the lot line at the front or south end, was exactly on the line at the north end, and was approximately 160 feet in length. Rylands and Reid sought an injunction and damages for the encroachment of Golden Press, Inc.'s building onto their property. The jury returned a verdict for Golden Press, Inc., but the trial court set aside the verdict, entered a mandatory injunction in favor of Rylands and Reid, and ordered a new trial on damages. Golden Press, Inc. appealed.
Was the encroachment of defendants' building onto plaintiff's property done in bad faith, i.e., was the encroachment deliberate that constituted a willful and intentional taking of another's land that would merit injunctive relief?
The Supreme Court of Colorado reversed the injunction, but permitted Rylands and Reid to proceed with an action for damages. It was conceded that only the footings of the building encroached and that encroachment was only a few inches. There was a conflict concerning the survey and the location of the footings, but the Court held that the encroachment was not done in bad faith. The Court noted that there was no impact on Rylands and Reid's present use of their property. The only potential impact would be if Rylands and Reid also decided to build on the property line, and even then the impact would be minimal. The encroachment was very slight, but the remedial cost would be high. The Court also reversed the portion of the injunction requiring Golden Press, Inc. to remove signs that may have mislead visitors and caused them to trespass on Rylands and Reid's property. That portion of the injunction was too indefinite.
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