Dougherty v. Stepp
18 N.C. 371.
Prosser, p. 63
Facts: The defendant went onto the plaintiffís land and surveyed it.† The trial court ruled that this was no trespass because the defendant didnít mark any trees or cut any bushes.
Issue: Can there be trespass if the defendant didnít apparently damage the land?
Rule: Every unauthorized entry to someone elseís land is a trespass.
Analysis: The court says that any time anyone goes on someone elseís land without their permission, you have to assume there are at least very minimal damages, like stomping on their grass.
Conclusion: The judgment was reversed and the court ordered a new trial.
Notes and Questions
1. This is trespass with intent.
2. If the defendant really believes heís on his own land, you canít say there is intent, and therefore, I donít believe trespass to land would lie.
3. Issues of ownership are distinct from issues of trespass. †Trespass basically is just about being there when youíre not supposed to be.
4. This note seems to suggest that if a someone keeps intruding on another personís property, over time the court might recognize it as their property, simply because theyíve been there so long.† The other idea is that we donít want people beating each other up over trespass, and so weíd rather have them come to court, even if the damages are going to be very small.
5. But it might affect damages.
6. It looks like you can have emotional distress damages only in extreme cases.