The Law School Authority

Longnecker v. Zimmerman Case Brief

Summary of Longnecker v. Zimmerman, S. Ct. Kansas, 1954

Facts: Plaintiff owned a piece of property adjacent to the defendant.  The defendant hired Arborfield Tree Surgery Co. to upon the PL property and top off, injure, and destroy three cedar trees valued at $150 each.

Issue: Whether trial court erred in giving its instruction to the jury on the rule of trespass?

Holding: Yes

Procedure: Jury trial returned general verdict for defendant. Mot 4 new trial denied.  Plaintiff appeals.  Reversed.

Rule: Every direct invasion of the person or property of another, the law infers damage, without proof of actual injury. Invasion with an actual injury allows for recovery of damages, whatever loss sustained, otherwise recover nominal damages.

Court Rationale: Defendant admitted to entering the property of was a mistake.  The judge instructed the jury that DF is “liable in damages for such sum, if any, as you find from the preponderance of the evidence plaintiff has sustained.”  Def. entered the property of PL and caused an actual injury to the property of PL.  Def. admitted entering the property.  The PL is entitled to recover damages resulting from the actual injury plus nominally for trespass.

Plaintiff: The DF trespass is an automatic injury, plus the actual injury to the trees creates further recoverable damages.

Defendant: The resulting damage to the trees was a mistake, and the value of the trees is arbitrary.

Quare Clausum Fregit – breaking a close, unlawful entry upon land.

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