Wiersum v. Harder

[TORT LAW]

In Wiersum v. Harder,[1] the supreme court held that landowners do not have a duty to their neighbors to prevent unreasonable risks of harm caused by third parties.[2] Harder brought a timber trespass action against his neighbors, the Wiersums, seeking damages after he discovered that the Wiersums had cut down trees on his property.[3] In their answer, the Wiersums filed a third-party complaint against a another neighbor, Wietfeld, alleging that she negligently misrepresented to the Wiersums that she owned the property in between her home and their home and granted them permission to cut down the trees.[4] The lower court dismissed the claim against Wietfeld holding that she did not owe a duty to the Wiersums.[5] On appeal, the Wiersums argued that Wietfeld was liable because she negligently misrepresented or failed to disclose information to the Wiersums and that Wietfeld owed a broad duty to her neighbors to prevent unreasonable risks of harm.[6] The supreme court affirmed the lower court’s decision, reasoning that claims for negligent misrepresentation and failure to disclose require a business transaction between the parties, which was not present in this case.[7] The court further reasoned that Wietfeld owed no broad duty of care to her neighbors since there was no statute, regulation, contract or case law supporting such a liability theory.[8] Affirming the lower court’s decision, the supreme court held that landowners do not have a duty to their neighbors to prevent unreasonable risks of harm caused by third parties.[9]          

 



[1] 316 P.3d 557 (Alaska 2013).

[2] Id. at 566–67.

[3] Id. at 560.

[4] Id.

[5] Id. at 563.

[6] Id.

[7] Id. at 563–66.

[8] Id. at 566.

[9] Id. at 566–67.

Wiersum v. Harder

[TORT LAW]

In Wiersum v. Harder,[1] the supreme court held that landowners do not have a duty to their neighbors to prevent unreasonable risks of harm caused by third parties.[2] Harder brought a timber trespass action against his neighbors, the Wiersums, seeking damages after he discovered that the Wiersums had cut down trees on his property.[3] In their answer, the Wiersums filed a third-party complaint against a another neighbor, Wietfeld, alleging that she negligently misrepresented to the Wiersums that she owned the property in between her home and their home and granted them permission to cut down the trees.[4] The lower court dismissed the claim against Wietfeld holding that she did not owe a duty to the Wiersums.[5] On appeal, the Wiersums argued that Wietfeld was liable because she negligently misrepresented or failed to disclose information to the Wiersums and that Wietfeld owed a broad duty to her neighbors to prevent unreasonable risks of harm.[6] The supreme court affirmed the lower court’s decision, reasoning that claims for negligent misrepresentation and failure to disclose require a business transaction between the parties, which was not present in this case.[7] The court further reasoned that Wietfeld owed no broad duty of care to her neighbors since there was no statute, regulation, contract or case law supporting such a liability theory.[8] Affirming the lower court’s decision, the supreme court held that landowners do not have a duty to their neighbors to prevent unreasonable risks of harm caused by third parties.[9]          

 



[1] 316 P.3d 557 (Alaska 2013).

[2] Id. at 566–67.

[3] Id. at 560.

[4] Id.

[5] Id. at 563.

[6] Id.

[7] Id. at 563–66.

[8] Id. at 566.

[9] Id. at 566–67.