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Continuing Trespass

An unlawful intrusion that interferes with one's person or property. Tort Law originated in England with the action of trespass. Initially trespass was any wrongful conduct directly causing injury or loss; in modern law trespass is an unauthorized entry upon land. A trespass gives the aggrieved party the right to bring a civil lawsuit and collect damages as compensation for the interference and for any harm suffered. Trespass is an intentional tort and, in some circumstances, can be punished as a crime.

Common-Law Form of Action
Trespass is one of the ancient Forms of Action that arose under the Common Law of England as early as the thirteenth century. It was considered a breach of the king's peace for which the wrongdoer might be summoned before the king's court to respond in a civil proceeding for the harm caused. Because the king's courts were primarily interested in land ownership disputes, the more personal action of trespass developed slowly at first. Around the middle of the fourteenth century, the clerks of the king's courts began routinely giving out writs that permitted a plaintiff to begin a trespass action. Before that time criminal remedies for trespass were more common. The courts were primarily concerned with punishing the trespasser rather than compensating the landowner. From the beginning a defendant convicted of trespass was fined; a defendant who could not pay the fine was imprisoned. The fine in this criminal proceeding developed into an award of damages to the plaintiff. This change marked the beginning of tort action under the common law. As trespass developed into a means of compelling the defendant to compensate the plaintiff for injury to his property interests, it took two forms: an action for trespass on real property and an action for injury to Personal Property. In an action for trespass on land, the plaintiff could recover damages for the defendant's forcible interference with the plaintiff's possession of his land. Even the slightest entry onto the land without the plaintiff's permission gave the plaintiff the right to damages in a nominal sum. An action for trespass to chattels was available to seek damages from anyone who had intentionally or forcibly injured personal property. The injury could include carrying off the plaintiff's property or harming it, destroying it, or keeping the plaintiff from holding or using it as she had a right to do. Later, an additional Cause of Action was recognized for injuries that were not forcible or direct. This action was called trespass on the case oraction on the case because its purpose was to protect the plaintiff's legal rights, rather than her person or land, from intentional force. Over the years the courts recognized other forms of actions that permitted recovery for injuries that did not exactly fit the forms of trespass or trespass on the case. Eventually, writs were also issued for these various types of actions. For example, a continuing trespass was a permanent invasion of someone's rights, as when a building overhung a neighbor's land. A trespass for mesne profits was a form of action against a tenant who wrongfully took profits, such as a crop, from the property while he occupied it. A trespass to try title was a form of action to recover possession of real property from someone who was not entitled to it. This action "tried title" so that the court could order possession for the person who turned out to be the rightful owner.

to force water or soil under the property. In this case.S. Generally. however. The reason for all of these rules is that the action of trespass exists to prevent breaches of the peace by protecting the quiet possession of real property. the planes were flying below levels approved by federal law and regulations. . Ct. 90 L. or to build a foundation that crosses under the boundary line. For example. For example. whether the invasion is by a person or by something that a person has set in motion. A farmer who discovers several persons cutting down valuable hardwood trees for firewood could recover a more substantial amount in damages. even if no harm is done to the property. so the government was held responsible. the U. the trespasser can be held liable for the fire damage. such as the owner of an apartment building. Injury to the property is not necessary for the defendant to be guilty of trespass. For example. For example. Trespass to Land In modern law the word trespass is used most commonly to describe the intentional and wrongful invasion of another's real property. The Court concluded that because the airspace above land is like a public highway. A plaintiff who could not fit her complaint exactly into one of the forms could not proceed in court. Moreover. Underground encroachments are usually an exception to the rule that no harm needs to be shown in order to prove a trespass. Courts have had to consider how far above and below the ground the right to possession of land extends. The action can be maintained against anyone who interferes with the right of ownership or possession. an intruder cannot defend himself in a trespass action by showing that the plaintiff did not have a completely valid legal right to the property. a person could sue birdwatchers who intruded onto his land but would probably receive only nominal damages. The rights protected remain in force. Supreme Court held the federal government liable for harm caused to a poultry business by low-altitude military flights. 66 S. Trespassers are responsible for nearly all the consequences of their unlawful entry. In United States v. ordinary airplane flights cannot commit trespass. as can a person who thought that she was on her own land. and frequently even the old names are still used. and so is a company that throws rocks onto neighboring land when it is blasting. Every unlawful entry onto another's property is trespass. 256. Its activity was a "taking" of private property. A person who has a right to come onto the land may become a trespasser by committing wrongful acts after entry. including those that could not have been anticipated or are the result of nothing more wrongful than the trespass itself. It is no excuse that the trespasser mistakenly believed that she was not doing wrong or that she did not understand the wrong. 1206 (1946).S. Constitution requires just compensation. a hunter who enters fields where hunting is forbidden is a trespasser. The various trespass actions are still important.S. It may be a trespass to tunnel or mine under another person's property. although the amount of damages awarded will generally reflect the extent of the harm done to the property. however. even if she obviously had been wronged.These common-law forms of action had serious shortcomings. if a trespasser carefully lights a fire in the stove of a lake cabin and a fault in the stove causes the cabin to burn down. A child can be a trespasser. a tenant. for which the Fifth Amendment to the U. 328 U. or a member of the tenant's family. a mail carrier has a privilege to walk up the sidewalk at a private home but is not entitled to go through the front door. An action for trespass can be maintained by the owner or anyone else who has a lawful right to occupy the real property. the plaintiff does not have to show that the defendant intended to trespass but only that she intended to do whatever caused the trespass. 1062. Causby. because modern property laws are largely based on them. A person who enters property with permission but stays after he has been told to leave also commits a trespass. In a trespass action. Modern law has remedied this situation by enacting rules of Civil Procedure that replace the common-law forms with more flexible ways of wording a civil complaint. Ed.

for example. a person who forcibly enters onto land is guilty of a crime. For example. A landlord does not have the right to enter a tenant's apartment whenever the landlord wants. a passerby who sees someone pointing a gun at another person may cross onto the property and subdue the person with the gun. A hotel employee who enters a guest's room to perform housekeeping services is not a trespasser because it is customary to assume that guests want such services. Consent simply means giving permission or allowing another onto the land. but the tenant's consent to this arrangement is either contained in the lease or is implied from the landlord's assumption of responsibility for making repairs inside the apartment. A defendant might have to pay damages to repair the plaintiff's property or compensate the plaintiff for the diminished value of her property. However. but the occupant can sue for Assault and Battery or damage to her personal property. a person who lets neighborhood children play in her yard has given consent. Continuing Trespass A trespass is continuing when the offending object remains on the property of the person entitled to possession. Trespass by One Entitled to Possession In nearly all states." the states provide legal procedures for the rightful owner to use to recover his land. A police officer can pursue a criminal across private property without liability for trespass. the landlord usually has the right to enter to make repairs. do not have any special right to trespass. . The landlord must arrange a reasonable time for the repairs. A person is not guilty of trespass if he goes onto another's land to protect life or property during an emergency. the defendant may be ordered to remove it. If charged with trespass by the guest. Many states do not let the illegal occupant sue the rightful owner in trespass for his forcible entry. Some courts have allowed a series of lawsuits where there is a continuing trespass. Permission to enter someone else's property can be given either by consent or by license. For example. Defenses In some cases a defendant is not liable for trespass even though she has intruded onto another's property. The remedies can be tailored to the particular kind of harm done. A homeowner who calls a house painter and asks for an estimate cannot later complain that the painter trespassed by coming into her yard. A building or fence that encroaches on a neighbor's property creates a continuing trespass. Public officials. the hotel would claim the guest consented to the employee's entry. Where a structure or object is on the plaintiff's property. Someone at the scene of a traffic accident may go onto private property to pull a victim from one of the vehicles. as does a tree that has fallen across a boundary line. but the prevailing view is that the dispute should be settled in its entirety in one action. but a housing inspector with a Search Warrant can enter someone's building whether the owner consents or not. To discourage such "self help. even if that person is entitled to possession of the land.trespass actions are permitted only where there is some damage to the surface or some interference with the owner's rights to use her property. For example. Consent may be implied from all the circumstances. The police officer's defense to a claim of trespass is her lawful authority to enter. a landlord who personally tries to eject a tenant creates a potentially explosive situation.

however. but in some states trespass is a criminal offense regardless of the defendant's intent. an electric company might have a license to enter private property to maintain electrical lines or to read the electric meter. When the trespass involves violence or injury to a person or property. most states require an occupant of land to be more careful because a child cannot always be expected to understand and appreciate dangers. however. Criminal trespass is punishable by fine or imprisonment or both. In this case the erection of a fence around the swimming pool would likely shield the property owner from liability if a child trespassed and drowned in the pool. a fence accidentally electrified by a falling wire. Statutes in some states specify that a trespass is not criminal until after a warning. For example. theft. The owner or person in possession of real property can be held liable if guests are injured on the property because of the owner's Negligence. This license is not necessarily a certificate and may be in the form of a written agreement. the law would classify this as an attractive nuisance that could be expected to cause harm to a child. has been given to the trespasser.Sometimes consent to enter another's land is called a license. The occupant of real property has a duty only to refrain from intentionally injuring a trespasser on the premises. Deadly Force in any manner is generally not justifiable except in Self-Defense while preventing a violent felony. If the trespasser is a child. or a broken stair. Mere trespass is not a felony. . or legal permission. Criminal intent may have to be proved to convict under some statutes. Some modern statutes make any unlawful entry onto another's property a crime. A property owner generally does not have the same duty to make the premises safe for a trespasser. The employees cannot act unreasonably when they make repairs. Criminal Trespass At common law a trespass was not criminal unless it was accomplished by violence or breached the peace. The homeowner cannot shoot children who keep cutting across the lawn or set traps or deadly springoperated guns to kill anyone who trespasses on the property. A property owner who knows that people frequently trespass at a particular place on his land must act affirmatively to keep them out or exercise care to prevent their injury. and penalties may be increased for more serious or malicious acts. The property owner must take reasonable precautions to prevent a trespassing child from harm. if the property owner has a swimming pool. A trespasser assumes the risk of being injured by an unguarded excavation. either spoken or by posted signs. The unlawful purpose may be an attempt to disrupt a government office. Therefore. Duty to Trespassers A homeowner is limited in what he can do to protect his family and property from trespassers. Some statutes consider a trespass criminal only if the defendant has an unlawful purpose in entering or remaining in the place where he has no right to be. it is always considered criminal. or Arson. These general rules have several exceptions. and they and the company are liable for any damage they cause to the property.

and the agreed price was P56. Ecoland and Prosperador Regaña executed a Contract To Sell over the property. namely.[5]They then left for Surigao where Milagros was then working. and had an area of 331 square meters. J. the spouses Prosperador and Milagros Regaña. CONAHAP. Ecoland Subdivision. Upon their return to the Philippines in 1984. they were dumbfounded to see that a house already stood on their property – that of Ernesto Conahap who. with a down payment of P3. Davao City.00 upon the execution of the contract to sell. Lot No. Davao City. Bucana. The Regaña spouses then left the Philippines and returned to Nigeria where they were employed. petitioners. 1983. vs. Prosperador Regaña then filed a complaint for recovery of possession of the said property with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Davao City. On August 22. GANCINOand MELANIE HEIRS OF REGAÑA and DECISION CALLEJO.. namely. NERRE CONAHAP. 8 (Phase 4). GANCINO CONAHAP. * D. Project Engineer Romel Bernardino accompanied Prosperador Regaña to the property which was then unoccupied. No.[G. together with his family.[1] the balance payable on or before September 30. judgment be rendered in his favor. praying that after due hearing.270. The property. T-101822 under Prosperador’s name. Block No.00. as well as a “No Trespassing” sign. FARRAH MAY GANCINO CONAHAP. Bernardino also showed a sketch plan[2]indicating its location.000. Davao City in March 1988. was located at Sapphire Street. [3] adjacent thereto was the house owned by Delfin Yap. respondents. agreed to purchase a parcel of land in Davao City.: Sometime in August 1983.: WHEREFORE.R. MILAGROS CARLA JOY REGAÑA. PROSPERADOR REGAÑA. premises considered. and the Register of Deeds thereafter issued Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. They placed a temporary fence around its perimeter. 2005] HEIRS OF ERNESTO V. it is most respectfully prayed of this Honorable Court that judgment be rendered: . May 17.[4] and behind it. Upon their return to Matina. 33. SR.[6] Prosperador then filed a complaint for ejectment against Ernesto with the Office of the Barangay Captain. The purchase price was paid. was already residing therein. The parties failed to arrive at a settlement. 152021. Bernardino’s house was around 100 meters away from the lot. Matina. a commercial road. It was owned by Ecoland Properties Development Corporation (Ecoland). 1983. viz. the couple visited the property and found it unoccupied. who had first returned to the Philippines from Nigeria.

[8] and.000. Ernesto alleged in his application that he had occupied the property since 1966 and planted coconut trees. Ponciano’s brother. Ernesto admitted that the spouses Regaña had purchased the property from Ecoland. agents. Matina. 1986.00) Pesos plus appearance fees and other litigation expenses. 1982. who declared that Ponciano had allowed Ernesto to construct his house over the property. Feliciano testified further that there was no “No Trespassing” sign installed on the property. it was later sold to Ecoland on June 14. 2.000. He presented Feliciano Sabroso. his brother Feliciano secured an authority from the Bureau of Lands for the survey of the property on October 26. thereafter. and that it was titled in their names. For his part. 2341. demolish his structure.[10] The property was surveyed on October 28. During the pre-trial.1. Ordering defendant to pay rentals on the premises at the rate of five hundred (P500. and representatives to vacate the land in question. 1988. nor any fence constructed around its perimeter. 1989 by Geodetic Engineer Meliton Panes who prepared a plan [11] covering the said lot. [7] In his answer to the complaint. 1974 via a deed of absolute sale. Ordering defendant to pay exemplary damages in the amount of TEN THOUSAND (P10. his privies. Ordering defendant to pay attorney’s fees in the amount of TEN THOUSAND (P10. Ordering defendant. located in Kabacan. to the Regaña spouses. It appeared in the said plan that the property[12] claimed by the Regaña spouses was . 1988 and February 3. Ernesto further alleged that the property occupied by him was a portion of the property subject of Ponciano Sabroso’s existing application for a free patent with the Bureau of Lands. fruit trees and vegetables. PLAINTIFF further prays for such other reliefs as the Honorable Court may deem just and equitable in the premises. 3.A. and that such application was filed with the Bureau of Lands on August 25. Ernesto adduced evidence that Ponciano’s free patent application covered a 5½ hectare lot. He claimed that the subject property was part of a 188. Ernesto alleged that Prosperador had no cause of action against him.299-squaremeter lot owned by Saya V.00) pesos. 5. Lim and covered by TCT No.00) pesos a month counted from January 1988 until possession thereof is restored to the plaintiff. 4. Davao City. Ordering defendant to pay to (sic) [the] costs. Prosperador admitted that the property was covered by Ponciano’s homestead patent application which was filed with the Bureau of Lands in 1982.[9] Upon Ponciano’s death on October 11. and turn possession thereof to the plaintiff.

Ernesto also adduced evidence that Ponciano had filed a complaint for forcible entry against Ecoland. Ordering the defendant. 3. GancinoConahap. 2000. as evidenced by the resurvey[14] of the property titled to the latter.[15] dated June 19. [17] 2. Ordering defendant to pay attorney’s fees in the amount of P10. and that Ponciano failed to prove his possession of the lot. his privies. 1988 until possession thereof is restored to the plaintiff. The court ruled that it had no jurisdiction over the complaint of Ecoland. agents and representatives to vacate the land in question. after a joint trial.[16] On September 1. Ernesto further alleged that although the Bureau of Lands had not approved Ponciano’s free patent application. Ordering defendant to pay plaintiff rentals of the land at the rate of P300. and was similarly denied. They further assert that under Article 434 of the New Civil Code. Ponciano appealed the decision to the RTC. which affirmed the decision on December 26. a committee was created to oversee the relocation survey of the exact boundaries of the Ecoland property. to demolish his structure and turn over possession thereof to the plaintiff. In the meantime. as the plaintiff in the trial court. 1993. and that such property was covered . dated July 31. Prosperador. the trial court rendered judgment in favor of Prosperador. the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Davao City dismissed the cases in a Decision. and To pay the cost. Article VIII of the Constitution. Ernesto appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals (CA). 1984. who now assail the appellate court’s decision and resolution through the instant petition for review on certiorari. was burdened to prove the identity of the property claimed by him. 1991. The appellate court ruled that Ernesto failed to prove that the property occupied by him and his family was a portion of the property subject of Ponciano’s free patent application. Farrah May Gancino Conahap and Melanie Gancino Conahap. The fallo of the decision reads: WHEREFORE.00. 1989. Per the Memorandum[13] of the Regional Technical Director of the Land Management Services. 4. Ernesto died and was survived by his heirs.000. judgment is rendered against the defendant in favor of plaintiff: 1. the property occupied by him was not a part of Ecoland’s property. Nerre D.00 per month counted from Jan. It is the contention of the petitioners that the decision of the CA does not comply with Section 14. and that Ecoland filed a similar complaint against him on August 15. A motion for reconsideration thereof was likewise filed.owned by Ponciano.

The Court agrees with the contention of the petitioners that the RTC and the CA erred in ruling that the respondents failed to prove that the property subject of Ponciano’s homestead application in the Bureau of Lands includes the lot subject of the complaint. Unless for exceptional reasons. Exhibit “A”. Exhibit “C” – Certificate to File Action. only questions of law may be raised in this Court. Citing the ruling of this Court in Government of the Philippine Islands v. Prosperador. 3) the matter of the area occupied by the defendant was reported by the plaintiff to the Office of the plaintiff’s counsel for settlement and arbitration. The raison d’etre of this rule is that this Court is not a trier of facts. Even in cases where the Court exercises its power to review. Ernesto. the fact is that. admitted the following: 1) that the land is covered by the Application of Ponciano Sabroso but with the counter-manifestation that said Application was not approved by the Bureau of Lands and it was filed nine (9) years ago and no action was taken thereon.[18] and relying on their documentary evidence.” [19] On the other hand. admitted during the pre-trial that the property subject of the complaint was purchased by Prosperador from Ecoland and was covered by TCT No. T-101822 under the name of Prosperador: 1) the land is titled in the name of the plaintiff. Exhibit “1. Subsequently. respondent Prosperador Regaña died and was survived by his heirs. The petition is denied due course. In their comment to the TCT No. unless in conflict with those of the trial court or contrary to the evidence on record. respondents Milagros and Carla Joy Regaña. as gleaned from the pre-trial order of the trial court. T-101822. Nonetheless. Franco. the findings of fact of the CA are still to be considered conclusive and binding. 2) the land was purchased from the Ecoland Development Corporation. Under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. the petitioners aver that Ponciano had acquired title over the property by acquisitive prescription by virtue of his adverse possession even as against the owner. despite his erroneous belief that the property was public land. The issues raised in this case are factual. as the plaintiff (the respondents’ p redecessor). it is not to review the evidence on record and assess the probative weight thereof. the defendant therein and the predecessor of the petitioners. . 2) that there is a survey but with counter-manifestation that said survey was not approved. the respondents maintained that the decision of the CA was correct.

the property was already private land. with the intention of holding and claiming it under the homestead law. Ponciano never acquired any rights over the property. In this case. much less approved by the Bureau of Lands. By the time the complaint of the respondents was filed in the RTC. In that case. Franco adduced proof that he complied with all the legal formalities for a homestead patent application. IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING.[24] The ruling of this Court in Government of the Philippine Islands v. filed a petition in the cadastral court to settle and adjudicate the title to two parcels of land. and that the latter failed to prove the identity of the claimed property. . Ponciano had already died. Since the property is titled to the respondents.[22] Such admissions cannot be contradicted by the parties. in behalf of the government. the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. Juan Franco claimed ownership over the property and adduced proof during the trial that it was part of a forest concession granted to Petronilo Sangued. The petitioners are thus estopped from claiming that the property occupied by them is not the property titled to the respondents. [20] The admissions of the parties during the pre-trial as embodied in the pre-trial order of the court are binding and conclusive on them. but that he cultivated the property and built his house thereon. he acquired title over the property by actual possession as against the owner. they are entitled to possess the same. when Ponciano filed his application for a homestead patent over the property in 1982. The Court awarded the property to Franco who took possession of the property on the erroneous belief that it was public land.[21] unless there is a clear showing that the admission was entered through palpable mistake. since neither Ponciano nor his brother Feliciano was a party in the RTC. Franco[25] does not apply in this case.4) the lot is now fully developed with concrete roads and underground drainage.[23] It bears stressing that a certificate of title serves as evidence of an indefeasible and incontrovertible title to the property in favor of the person whose name appears therein. SO ORDERED. Moreover. however. his application was not acted upon. the Director of Lands. Costs against the petitioners. hence.