Torts I, Pages 120–121

Hodgeden v. Hubbard

Supreme Court of Vermont, 1846

Facts:

Plaintiff buyer purchased a stove on credit and defendants' warehouse. Defendants discovered that plaintiff misrepresented his assets and credit and was financially irresponsible. They chased after him and overtook him two miles away, where they took the stove from plaintiff by force, holding plaintiff down after he drew a knife.

Procedural History:

The trial court charged the jury that defendant were not justified in forcibly taking the stove or using force against him, and that defendants would be liable if force was found to have been used. The jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff for $1.00 damages.

Issue:

Whether defendants had the right to take back their property by force.

Rule/Holding:

Defendants were justified in taking back their property but not in using force to do so except in response to plaintiff's aggression. If defendants' force was in response to plaintiff's resistance and not unnecessarily violent, they were justified.

Judgment:

Reversed.


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