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Keeble v. Hickeringill

    Citation. 103 ER 1126, Volume 103

    Brief Fact Summary. The Plaintiff, Keeble (Plaintiff), brought an action for damages against the Defendant, Hickeringill (Defendant), for depriving him of a profit when the Defendant purposefully frightened ducks away from the Plaintiff’s decoy pond by firing a gun.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Landowners are considered prior possessors (first possessors) of wild animals on their land.


    Facts. The Plaintiff possessed land containing a decoy pond. The pond assisted the Plaintiff in taking ducks for a profit. The Defendant, with knowledge of the decoy pond, fired guns scaring away the ducks in Plaintiff’s pond. The Plaintiff sued and was granted recovery. The Defendant appealed arguing, that no cause of action existed because the Plaintiff did not have title to the ducks.

    Issue. Whether the Plaintiff had a property right in the ducks that were on his property?

    Held. Yes. The Plaintiff is entitled to damages because the Defendant intentionally frightened the ducks off of the Plaintiff’s property. Even though the Plaintiff did not have title to the ducks, he was using his land in accordance with the law. Since the Defendant interfered with the Plaintiff’s lawful use of his land the Plaintiff was entitled to damages.

    Discussion. Although the Plaintiff never had actual physical possession of the ducks, the Plaintiff still had property rights in the ducks because they were on his property. The Defendant maliciously interfered with the Plaintiff’s livelihood.

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