Surocco v. Geary
Court CA - 1853
- There was a huge fire in SF.
- D was a city official and decided that blowing up P's property would prevent the spread of the fire, so D blew up P's property.
- P was in the process of removing his belongings from the house when it was blown up. P claimed that he could have recovered more if it had not been blown up.
- P sued D for damages.
- Trial court found for P, D liable.
- CA Court reversed, D not liable.
- Is a person liable to a property owner for destruction of property if they destroyed the property in good faith and under the necessity of preventing future harm?
- A person is not liable to a property owner for destruction of property if they destroyed the property in good faith and under the necessity of preventing future harm.
- In situations where there is great risk for public harm, private rights of individuals yield to the considerations of general convenience and the interest of society.
- In order to avoid liability, the individual must prove that there was a necessity to destroy the property.
- The legislature of each state can regulate this by determine how structures may be destroyed and much the property owner can recover. Without such regulation, common law must be followed.
- Thus, there can be no recovery since this situation constituted a necessity.
- Privilege of public necessity.