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Court Reverses $100K Verdict For Oil In Home

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DEWITT (WWJ/AP) - The Michigan Supreme Court has thrown out a $100,000 verdict for a woman whose home had to be demolished after the basement was mistakenly filled with heating oil.

In a 4-0 decision Thursday, the court says Beckie Price of DeWitt can’t be awarded money for mental anguish for the destruction of property. The court says there’s no precedent for it.

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, now 57-year-old, 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 said at trial.

Price was compensated $175,000 for the loss of her home in Clinton County, but she filed a lawsuit seeking money for non-economic damages. The state appeals court had upheld the $100,000 verdict, saying a home holds emotions and memories.

TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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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