Ploof v. Putnam Case Brief

Summary of Ploof v. Putnam, 81 Vt. 471, 71 A. 188 (1908)

Defendant’s demurrer to the counts was overruled; defendant appealed.

Facts: Plaintiff and his family were sailing in a sloop in Lake Champlain, when a violent tempest arose, compelling them to find safety by mooring the boat to the defendant’s island dock. Defendant’s servant unmoored the sloop, which was then driven upon the shore by the tempest. The sloop was destroyed and the family was injured. The plaintiff’s claim was set forth in two counts: one in trespass and the other in case, that the defendant by his servant, negligently, carelessly, and wrongfully unmoored the sloop in disregard of his duty to permit the plaintiff to moor his sloop to the dock for reasons of safety.

Issue: May necessity justify entries upon land and interferences with personal property that would otherwise have been trespass?

Holding: Yes. Judgment affirmed and cause remanded.

Rationale: In many cases regarding the protection of property and the preservation of human life, it was held that necessity was lawful and justified. The case must be remanded to resolve the question of whether the plaintiff could have moored to nearby natural objects other than his dock with equal safety.

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