Tuesday, January 20, 2015

No Fees for Farm Without Actual Damages

Belle Terre Ranch, Inc, v. Wilson, No. A137217 (D1d5 Jan. 13, 2015)

In a boundary dispute, plaintiff was awarded nominal damages for trespasses on the disputed property that, while annoying, did not cause any real property damage. Under these circumstances, it was not entitled to an award of attorneys’ fees under Code of Civil Procedure § 1021.9, which permits a fee award in an action to recover damages to agricultural property. It gives farmers a meaningful remedy when trespassers break through fences and drive motor vehicles onto private farm property. In contrast, this case is primarily a boundary dispute. Although plaintiff’s property—a vineyard—was agricultural, no damages had been proven as a result of the trespass, which made a fee award improper.

Reversed. 

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