Jascha v. Rodrigues
To prevail on trespass, a plaintiff must prove: 1.) ownership of, or a possessory interest in, property; 2.) an invasion or intrusion that affects the plaintiff's exclusive possessory interest; 3.) the defendant acted with intent to invade or intrude; and 4.) the plaintiff was injured. Allegedly, the defendant neighbor relied on an inaccurate survey from Precision Land Surveys LLC and cut trees and built a wall and driveway on the plaintiffs' property. The plaintiffs sued. The court credited the testimony of the plaintiffs' surveyor, Tracy Lewis, that the defendant encroached on the plaintiffs' property. The court granted the plaintiffs' motion to quiet title to the part of their property on which the defendant constructed a 125-foot wall, cut down trees and built a driveway. "The evidence," wrote the court, "[reveals] that the Defendant, John Rodrigues, intended to build the elaborate stone wall, to remove trees from the property, and to alter the topography." The plaintiffs proved that the defendant trespassed and that they were entitled to damages for loss of use of the property, the diminution in the value and the restoration of the property. The plaintiffs' expert, John Philbin, testified it would cost $89,600 to remove the wall, replace trees and saw cut part of the driveway. The defendant's expert, Thomas Christiano, provided an estimate of $32,900. Another defense expert, Linda Sepso, estimated the loss of property value at $2,400. The court denied the plaintiffs' request for a court injunction to remove the wall and driveway. The court ordered the defendant to maintain and repair them, so that they do not constitute a hazard. The court ordered the defendant to sign and to record on the land records a covenant that runs with the land in which the defendant assumes the obligation to maintain and repair the portion of the wall and driveway on the plaintiffs' property. The court awarded the plaintiffs $7,200 for loss of 18 evergreens, $260 for grass and $150 for top soil, for a total of $7,610. The court also awarded $2,400 for the loss of value of property and $3,000 as damages for trespass.