Dougherty v. Stepp

Facts: (Mistaken Trespass while surveying but didn’t cause any material damage.) Landowner brought an action of trespass. The only evidence Landowner offered to support his claim was that the defendant had entered onto his unenclosed land with a surveyor and actually surveyed a part of the land and claimed it as his own. The Defendant did not “make trees” (wtf does that mean) or cut bushes. The trial court ruled that no trespassing occurred.

Issue: Does a trespass occur whenever there is an unauthorized entry, even if that entry resulted in no material damage?

Rule: Every unauthorized entry is an unlawful entry. Thus, every unauthorized entry into another’s land is a trespass that gives rise to a cause of action for breaking the close regardless of whether the land was actually enclosed. Second, the law infers damage from every such entry, even if it is just the flattening the grass or shrubbery on which the trespasser walked.

Holding: The Court held that every unauthorised, and therefore unlawful entry, into the close of another, is a trespass. Plaintiff therefore had the right to recover, even if only a nominal amount.