An act of God is an event which is caused exclusively by the effect of nature or natural causes. It is caused without any interference by humans. A landowner has a duty of lateral support to the land of his/her adjoining landowner. However when the lateral support is destroyed by an act of God, landowner need not replace the destroyed lateral support. In Carrig v. Andrews,[i] court held that right of lateral support is not an insurance that nothing will happen to adjoining land. A landowner is under no duty to replace the lateral support destroyed by an act of God. In that case, Plaintiff and defendant were owners of adjoining land. After a hurricane, the tidewaters washed out a portion of defendant’s seawall and the land behind it near plaintiff’s boundary line. The small strip of wall and soil on defendant’s land that furnished lateral support to plaintiff’s land subsided and deprive the land of support, causing a small portion of land to crumble away. The plaintiff brought an action against defendant, seeking an injunction requiring defendant to refurnish support and damages that resulted from inability to rent cottages. The court ruled that defendant was under no duty to provide lateral support to plaintiff’s land that was destroyed by natural elements.
However, act of God is not a defense to an action for damages to adjoining land caused by an excavation, when the falling of the adjoining soil was due to erosion of washing.
[i] 127 Conn. 403 (Conn. 1941)