Hannan v. Dusch

154 Va. 356, 153 S.E. 824 (1930)

 

RULE:

Two principles should, in actions for breach of contract or tort, be impressed upon juries: (1) the plaintiff should recover only such damages as have directly and necessarily been occasioned by the defendant's wrongful act or default; and, (2) that if the plaintiff by reasonable exertions or care on his part could have prevented such damages, he is bound to do so; and so far as he could have thus prevented them, he cannot recover therefor. The injured party is entitled to recovery only such sums as will make him whole. This he is entitled to recover, so far as his injury has been the direct or natural cause of the wrongful act of the other party.

FACTS:

Plaintiff leased property from defendant. Defendant failed to oust previous holdover tenants. Plaintiff contended that defendant's failure to remove the obstruction to his entry and put him in possession was a breach of contract and deed. Defendant asserted that it only implied a legal right to enter, and was not a guaranty against damages resulting from the wrongful act of a third person who may happen to be in possession. Plaintiff sought review of the judgment of the Circuit Court, holding that defendant was not in breach of contract for failure to oust holdover tenants and place plaintiff in possession. The Court affirmed.

 

ISSUE:

Does a lessor, even without an express covenant, have an implied covenant to deliver possession to a lessee?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:


The judgment holding that defendant was not in breach of contract for failure to oust holdover tenants was affirmed because defendant's only duty under lease was to give legal possession, not to put plaintiff in possession against the holdover tenant. The court held that defendant, absent an express provision found in the lease, impliedly covenanted that plaintiff shall merely have the legal right to possession at the beginning of the term; that is, that the possession shall not be withheld by defendant himself or by one having a paramount title, but that there was no implied covenant to put the lessee in possession as against an intruder.

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