NOTE: Headline changed to reflect the fact it was the US government, not the Chinese, that wouldn't let the family return here.
A Chinese CFO who rented a house in Belmont for a year owes the landlord rent for the entire year, even though she and her family found themselves stuck in China midway through the year after the US would not grant them visas to return here after a trip there.
Property owners Shoreh and Fadi Karaa sued Kuk Yim, her employer and her husband for the entire year's rent. Yim had counter-sued to be released from the obligation. Kuk Yim said it wasn't her fault she, her husband and their daughter, couldn't come back here and so they had the right under "the doctrine of frustration of purpose" to abrogate the $4,500-a-month lease unilaterally.
But that doctrine, which the court noted "is a companion rule to the doctrine of impossibility," only holds when the person attempting to use it is frustrated by something they could not have foreseen. The appeals court agreed with the trial judge in the case, who said the Yim "knew or should have known that there was a possibility that the family's visa status might change, and she voluntarily undertook that risk [by returning to China]."
The court did award Yim $189 - treble damages for interest on the last month's rent, which Karaas had not paid Yim as required under state tenant laws.