Brief Fact Summary.
The Oregon Supreme Court ruled that a plaintiff may recover damages when a non-tangible object intrudes on Plaintiff’s property, creating a trespass.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
In Oregon, damages may be sought by the plaintiff when the defendant causes a non-tangible object to enter the plaintiff’s land by means of a trespass.
Georgia Pacific (Defendant) operated a pulp and paper plant close to Vera Davis and her husband’s residence. The operation of the plant, caused fumes, gases, smoke, and vibrations to surround the house of the Davis’. The Davis’ home became uninhabitable as a result. The Davis’ brought suit for trespass and the trial court ruled in their favor. Georgia Pacific appealed arguing fumes and gases do not constitute a trespass.
When a defendant causes a non-tangible object such as smoke, gas, and fumes to enter the property of another may a plaintiff seek damages for trespass?
Yes. The Oregon court expanded the definition of a trespass to include non-tangible objects such as smoke, fumes, and gases. The Court further pronounced that if a jury determines a trespass occurred then strict liability results.
Viewed in this way we may define trespass as any intrusion which invades the possessor's protected interest in exclusive possession, whether that intrusion is by visible or invisible pieces of matter or by energy which can be measured only by the mathematical language of the physicist.View Full Point of Law
The court looks to a balancing test similar to one used in a nuisance suit. The court determined that a balancing test can be utilized to determine whether a type of an intrusion is severe enough that it should be classified as a trespass. Here, the combination of fumes, smoke, and gases probably led the court to conclude this type of intrusion to be deemed a trespass.