Ferraz v. Hunt
When a court awards damages for loss of value from a neighbor's intentional trespass, the court can subtract the value of the property after the trespass from the value of the trespass prior to the trespass. Plaintiffs Maria and Vasco Ferraz planted a row of pine trees on their property. Vasco Ferraz credibly testified that he planted the pine trees for privacy. The pine trees, which were about two feet tall when they were planted, grew until they were 20 feet. In 2010, the plaintiffs discovered that the tops of the pine trees had been cut about eight feet, to provide a neighbor, the defendant, Richard Hunt, an unobstructed view of the plaintiffs' property. Allegedly, the defendant neighbor admitted that he cut the pine trees and that he wanted to see the plaintiffs' property. To prevail on trespass, a plaintiff must establish: 1.) an ownership or possessory interest in property; 2.) an invasion, intrusion or entry that affects the plaintiff's exclusive interest; 3.) the invasion, intrusion or entry was intentional; and 4.) the plaintiff suffered injury. The court found that the defendant neighbor trespassed and willfully cut the tops of 27 pine trees. The plaintiffs' appraiser, Kurt Stoffel, valued the plaintiffs' property at $260,000, before the pine trees were cut, and $245,000, after the pine trees were cut. The defendant's appraiser, Shawna Bedard, opined that there was no loss of value, because the property consisted of a multi-family house, and there was no expectation of privacy. The court credited Kurt Stoffel's expert opinion and awarded the plaintiffs damages of $14,500. The court denied the plaintiffs' request for treble damages.