Hensley v. San Diego Gas & Electric Co.

Annoyance and discomfort damages for trespass by defendant’s setting a wildfire that burned plaintiff’s home can include compensation for plaintiff’s emotional distress even though plaintiff was not present at the fire and suffered no physical injury.  A wildfire triggered by defendant’s negligence ravaged plaintiff’s home and lot.  This decision holds that plaintiff is entitled to recover as annoyance and discomfort damages on his trespass and nuisance claims against defendant damages for the emotional distress he suffered worrying about his family escaping the fire and then suffering from the destruction of his home and premises.  Emotional distress damages are recoverable for trespass and nuisance without proof of physical injury to the person, and without proof that the plaintiff was physically present at the time the trespass occurred.  It is enough that the plaintiff owned the property and had an immediate right to possess it.

California Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division 1 (O’Rourke, J.); January 31, 2017; 2017 WL 411050

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