Torts I, Pages 79–80

Glidden v. Szybiak

Supreme Court of New Hampshire, 1949

Facts:

Plaintiff, a four-year-old girl, walked to a neighborhood store for candy. On the store's porch she saw defendant's dog named Toby and started playing with him. Eventually, she climbed on his back and pulled his ears, causing him to bite her nose, for which she sues.

Procedural History:

Defendants' motion for summary judgment was denied, finding that plaintiff was too young to be capable of being guilty of contributory negligence, trespass, or a tort.

Issue:

Was plaintiff playing with defendant's dog a trespass to chattels?

Defendant's Argument:

Plaintiff was trespassing and is therefore barred from recovery according to the statute.

Rule:

Page 80, Paragraph 3.

The law in regard to a trespass to chattels is thus summarized in the Restatement of the Law of Torts, s. 218: "one who without consensual or other privilege to do so, uses or otherwise intentionally intermeddles with a chattel which is in possession of another is liable for a trespass to such person if,

  1. the chattel is impaired as to its condition, quality or value, or
  2. the possessor is deprived of the use of the chattel for a substantial time, or
  3. bodily harm is thereby caused to the possessor or harm is caused to some person or thing in which the possessor has a legally protected interest."

Reasoning:

No claim was made that plaintiff harmed defendant's dog in any way. She could not be guilty of trespass then.

Holding:

No, playing with defendant's dog was not a trespass. Judgment on the verdict against defendant.

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