MT. VERNON –– A Red Bud homeowner cannot make her neighbor pay to repair a shared easement, an appeals court ruled.
On Sept. 13, the Fifth District Appellate Court upheld Monroe County Circuit Court's earlier ruling in favor of Harold Hooten. His neighbor, Doris Walls, brought a small claims suit against him, alleging breach of contract.
The dispute centered around a shared easement between Walls, Hooten and five other neighbors.
In 1997, the homeowners -- with the exception of Hooten -- signed an agreement to split the costs to maintain the road, according to court documents. One of the homeowners later sold his home to Hooten.
After the roadway become very deteriorated, Walls contacted a company to level the area and lay asphalt. She paid the company and contacted the neighbors to reimburse her $2,560 each. Hooten refused and Walls filed suit.
Circuit Judge Dennis Doyle ruled Walls did not give Hooten enough notice to help make repair decisions. Walls appealed.
In the opinion, Judge David Overstreet noted past repairs cost a few hundred dollars. Walls should have consulted with the neighbors before asking to be reimbursed for a much greater amount.
"Instead, the plaintiff was required to give the defendant adequate notification and a reasonable opportunity to participate in the decisions regarding the driveway roadwork before recovering for roadwork expenses," Overstreet wrote.
Justices Melissa A. Chapman and Judy Cates concurred.