Case Law Dispatch: Toomer v. William C. Smith & Co.

By Cory Bilton

Case: Toomer v. William C. Smith & Co.

  • Court: DC Court of Appeals
  • Date of Decision: 3/26/15
  • Appellate Panel: Fisher, Beckwith, and King
  • Trial Judge: Epstein

Facts: Plaintiff was injured climbing a fence, which was intentionally coated in grease, while trying to retrieve his dog.


(a) Whether intentionally greasing a fence rail to deter trespassers from entering the land is sufficient evidence to show intent to injure trespassers?

(b) Was plaintiff’s entry upon defendant’s property privileged or a trespass when he entered to pursue his escaped pet dog?


(a) The existence of the grease alone is insufficient evidence to prove the Defendant intended to injure trespassers.

(b) A person may enter upon the land of another to prevent serious harm to his chattels, so long as his entry is reasonable under the circumstances. A jury may have found the Plaintiff’s entry on Defendant’s land was therefore privileged so that he could retrieve his dog.

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