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Lateral Support of Buildings and Other Structures

Right to lateral support applies only to land in its natural state, and not to the additional weight of buildings or other structures placed on the land.  In, Mullan v. Hacker[i] it was held that right of lateral support does not extend to additional weight of buildings or other structures.  In that case, defendant employed workmen to excavate a bank of earth near the landowner’s garage.  After excavation, the wall of landowner’s garage damaged and the roof fell in.  The court held that the fact that the walls of a building near which excavation made is damaged proves that there is negligence and defendant is liable for the damages caused by his negligence.

In, Carrion v. Singley[ii] court held that, when the land is not in its natural state, a landowner had no duty to repair, replace, or prevent further deterioration of a retaining wall on the property which provided lateral support to the adjoining landowner.

In, McCloud v. Salt Rock Water Pub. Serv. Dist.,[iii] court decided that an action to recover damages for the loss of lateral support for a building cannot be maintained in the absence of negligence on the part of the party depriving such building of its lateral support.  Thus, a landowner withdrawing lateral support of artificial additions to adjoining property is held to a reasonable care standard.  If lateral support is provided to adjoining land containing improvements, such as buildings or other construction, this support cannot be removed in complete disregard of the adjoining landowner’s interest.

[i] 187 Md. 261 (Md. 1946)

[ii] 614 S.W.2d 916 (Tex. Civ. App. Waco 1981)

[iii] 207 W. Va. 453 (W. Va. 2000)

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