On June 15, 2018, Sloan attorneys Tai Vokins and Krystal Vokins received a favorable opinion from the Kansas Court of Appeals in a land dispute matter.
In 2006, Lois Roberts sold some land with a commercial building on to Dr. Williamson, and retained two north/south adjacent lots. The land is not far from the Kansas river, so it is relatively loamy soil, and is pretty flat or only gradually slopes. After the sale, Mrs. Roberts made some changes to one of the adjacent lots to the east that she still owned, which caused some water to flow onto Dr. Williamson’s land.
Dr. Williams sued due to the water encroachment. That matter was settled. However, three years later Dr. Williamson sued again alleging breach of the settlement agreement and requesting specific performance.
After a trial, the court ordered Mrs. Roberts to pipe water to the south end of the property. In the meantime, Mrs. Roberts sold the adjacent lot and Dollar General built a store on the lot, which included installing a drainage system that diverted the street water to the south. When Mrs. Roberts tried to comply but was unable to fashion a resolution acceptable to all of the parties then involved, Dr. Williamson asked the court to find her in contempt. The judge held her in direct contempt, and ordered her to pay $108,000, followed by weekly penalties of $2,000 per week and then $1,000 per week after construction started.
On appeal, Tai Vokins and Krystal Vokins focused on the fact that Mrs. Roberts could not be held in direct contempt under Kansas law, and that the court erred in finding her in direct contempt because it did not following the correct procedure. Tai and Krystal also argued the sanction was a punitive measure, rather than remedial, because it was so much money and it was based on a $1,000 weekly fine from before the courts order. She could not cure or “purge” herself of this contempt order, and, therefore, it was invalid as a punitive measure.
The Court of Appeals agreed with Tai and Krystal and vacated the contempt finding and the sanction.
The case is Williamson v. Roberts and can be found at http://www.kscourts.org/Cases-and-Opinions/Opinions/Unpublished/Ctapp/2018/20180615/117044.pdf
Tai J. Vokins is an attorney licensed to practice in state and federal courts in Kansas. Mr. Vokins concentrates his practice in the areas of civil litigation and consumer protection issues. Krystal L. Vokins is an attorney licensed to practice in state and federal courts in Kansas. Ms. Vokins concentrates her practice in civil litigation and appeals. If you have questions about this case, you can reach Tai or Krystal at 785-842-6311.
The information and materials on this blog are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Being general in nature, the information and materials provided may not apply to any specific factual and/or legal set of circumstances. No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. Nothing on this blog is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney, especially an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. If you require legal advice, please consult with a competent attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.