Click to edit Master text styles
Second level
Third level
Fourth level
Fifth level
Any person who cuts down, deadens, girdles, boxes, destroys or takes away, if already cut down or fallen A fence is an outstanding symbol of possession which, regardless of property descriptions, may become a boundary if it is recognized as such for a certain length of time.
Actions under this section may be joined with actions for trespass, for cutting, injuring or removing timber. The issue regarding an unlawful double assessment of punitive damages was raised for the first time in the Wilsons’ post-judgment motion.  Because the error, if any, now alleged was not preserved below, it is not subject to appellate review.
Long been regarded as penal in nature, they are subject to a  strict construction, and the requisite intent must be clearly shown before liability may be imposed. The existence of a reasonable belief that the cutting is authorized or that the trees are on one’s own property constitutes a defense to the action. Such a belief, even if unreasonable, will preclude liability under these statutes unless the belief is “so patently unreasonable as to constitute a reckless disregard for the ownership of the trees.” Principal held not answerable for willful wrong of his agent, in which he did not participate, in knowingly and willfully cutting defendant’s trees.
Not a single case citing this statute could be found in a search of Westlaw or Lexis even though the statute has been in the Code since 1939.
The correct measure of damages for trespass on land is the difference between the value of the land immediately before the trespass and the value immediately after it. The worth of such trees is not the proper measure of damages in a civil action for trespass to land. The trial court was authorized to consider the cutting and damaging of the 441 trees and saplings, the photographs which were introduced, the cleanup costs, the nature of the land and its use, and all other competent evidence. The assessment of damages, where the damages are shown by competent evidence, is within the sound discretion of the jury, and those damages, once assessed, are presumed correct.  Particularly is this true where the jury, by way of a special verdict, based its award of damages on the trespass and conversion claim and not on the statutory penalty claim. The trial court’s findings need only be supported by evidence which is credible and that its determination will not be disturbed on appeal unless it is clearly erroneous and palpably wrong or unjust. The method of computation of the verdict amount based on the evidence will not be questioned on review, either by the trial court on post-judgment motion or by this Court (Supreme Court) on appeal.
When a trespass is perpetrated in a rude, wanton, reckless, or insulting manner, or is accompanied by circumstances of fraud, malice, oppression, or aggravation, or even with gross negligence, the party injured is entitled to recover punitive damages. The purpose of punitive damages in not to compensate the plaintiff but to punish the wrongdoer and to deter the wrongdoer and others from committing similar wrongs in the future. When considering punitive damages, however, the defendant’s right to fair punishment must be considered above the plaintiff’s right to recover the fullest amount of punitive damages. This Court has recognized that it is possible for a verdict to be excessive even when it is the result of a properly functioning jury.  For example, in assessing punitive damages, the jury is not allowed to consider the financial position of the defendant. Other civil actions against the same defendant, based on the same conduct, should also be taken into account in mitigation of the punitive damages award.