Supreme Court To Review $100K Verdict In Oil Spill

DEWITT (WWJ/AP) – The Michigan Supreme Court has taken a step toward possibly stopping a $100,000 verdict for a woman whose home had to be demolished after the basement was mistakenly filled with heating oil.

The court says it will take an appeal from High Pointe Oil Co. The company says Beckie Price of DeWitt in Clinton County isn’t entitled to a cash award for mental distress.

In November 2007, a deliveryman mistakenly pumped about 400 gallons of heating oil into a pipe that was no longer attached to a tank in Price’s basement. She had switched to a propane furnace a year earlier and told the company to take her off the customer list.

Oil leaked into the soil, and the house had to be demolished. Price had lived there since 1975.

For about four months, Price said  she often slept on a couch at her parents’ home, which was crammed with antiques. She then spent 18 months in a rented duplex before moving into a new home. She said she used prescription medicine to get through the tough times.

“It’s rather embarrassing to be 50-some-years-old and have to move back in with mom and dad,” Price, 55, said at trial.

The state appeals court last year upheld her $100,000 award for anguish, saying a home holds emotions and memories.

The $100,000 for anguish was on top of $175,000 received from Price’s insurance company for the value of the first home.

TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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