Intentional torts can involve not only damage to persons, but also damage to property.
You may be familiar with trespass as a crime, but trespass may also be a tort. The elements of the tort trespass are: 1. The intentional 2. Unprivileged 3. Entry onto the Plaintiff’s real property (land) 4. Without permission. Intent is an element of every intentional tort, so if the entry onto the land is a mistake or unintentional, this tort does not exist. If the trespass occurred through operation of law (like a police officer pursuing a suspect through the land) or because of public safety concerns (like when firefighters enter property to fight a fire), it is not actionable. The Defendant may physically enter the land, or may do so by use of an extension (such as tools or objects, like a rock). Light, odors, or sound from the Defendant is not trespass. Entry must also be within the “immediate reaches” of the surface of the property, which means an airplane would not trespass if it flew over the land. If the Defendant has permission from the property owner to enter the property, he or she has the privileged right to enter. Permission might be implied (as in the case of the meter reader coming onto land to read a meter). DEFENSES TO TRESPASS 1. All of the elements are not present. 2. Consent of the owner of the property. 3. Privilege.
A nuisance is a cause of action authorized when the Defendant’s behavior results in a loss of enjoyment or value in the Plaintiff’s property. There are two types of nuisance, public and private.
Chattel is personal property, including animals. Personal property is property that is not land or anything attached to it. For example, your car is personal property. The elements are: 1. Intentional 2. Unprivileged interference with the 3. Plaintiff’s personal property 4. That results in damages to or loss of the property. Because this is an intentional tort, intent is the first element. The interference must be unprivileged (in other words, unwarranted). For example, if the power company came onto your property to maintain the lines, and as a result of the work, a line fell and killed your expensive show dog, you would not have an action for Trespass to Chattels. The power company has a privilege to come onto any property to maintain lines. That doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t have a cause of action for negligence, however, if you could prove the elements of negligence. This type of lawsuit is based on the Defendant’s interference with the owner’s right to use and enjoy his or her personal property. This could mean that the property is damaged or that the property is taken from the control of the owner (which is another tort called “conversion,” which is like a civil type of theft).
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