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Law School Case Brief

Pardee v. Camden Lumber Co. - 70 W. Va. 68, 73 S.E. 82 (1911)

Rule:

All contracts relating to real estate are subjects of equitable cognizance because they relate to real estate. A distinction is made between contractual rights respecting real estate and liability growing out of trespasses thereon. Because of the relation of landlord and tenant, a court of equity will always prevent such misuse of the property by the tenant as amounts to waste and injury to the freehold. 

Facts:

Plaintiff land owner sought an injunction to prevent the cutting of timber on a tract of land, the title to which was in dispute. The trial court granted the injunction. However, defendant lumber company then sought an order dissolving the injunction pending an action of ejection to determine the title. The trial court issued an order dissolving the injunction.

Issue:

Should the then-existing rule, which required an allegation of the trespasser's insolvency before an injunction against the cutting of lumber was issued, be applied in this case?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

The appellate court reversed, reinstated the injunction, and remanded the action. Timber cut down and converted into mere logs and lumber was plainly not the same thing as standing timber. The legal remedies were wholly inadequate to re-convert logs and lumber into live, standing, growing trees. The then-existing rule, which required an allegation of the trespasser's insolvency before an injunction against the cutting of lumber was issued, would have permitted a trespasser to utterly destroy the forest of his neighbor provided he was solvent and able to respond in damages to the extent of the value thereof. Rather than apply the rule, the court treated the timber as part of the real estate, which allowed an injunction to prevent irreparable injury, pending determination of the ejectment action.

The court explained that a clear case of trespass by the cutting of timber should always be enjoined. Treating growing timber as part of the real estate and placing it on the basis of minerals applies the caselaw allowing an injunction to prevent irreparable injury, pending the determination of a dispute as to title by an action at law. The court was mindful that this suit for an injunction was ancillary to an action of ejectment pending between the parties for that purpose.

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