Bradley v. American Smelting and Refining Co. 709 P.2d 782 (Wash. 1984) Parties: Plaintiff – Bradley – Property owners who had microscopic particles on it. Defendant – American Smelting and Refining Co. – Company that smelts copper. Facts: Part of D’s smelting process, D emits into the atmosphere gasses and particulate matter. Some particulate emissions of cadmium and arsenic from D’s plant have been continually deposited on P’s land. D had been aware of this since it took over the plant in 1905. D was also aware that sometimes the wind cases the particulate matter to blow over to the island on which P’s property is located. Procedural Posture: Case was initially started in state court but was removed to federal district court. P moved for summary judgment on the issue of liability for the trespass. Issue: Did the D have the requisite intent to commit intentional trespass as a matter of law? Does an intentional deposit of microscopic particles undetectable by the human senses upon a person’s property give rise to a cause of action for trespassory invasion of the person’s right to exclusive possession of property as well as a claim of nuisance? Does the cause of action for trespassory invasion require proof of actual damages? Holding: The court dismisses P’s claim because P failed to show actual and substantial damages from the trespass. Legal Reasoning: Legal Reasoning – Issue 1 The court found that D had the requisite intent needed to commit intentional trespass as a matter of law. The court found from the Second Restatement of Torts on 15b: If the actor knows that the consequences are certain or substantially certain to result from this act and still goes ahead the law treats him as if he had in fact desired to produce the result. The court reasoned that the D acted on his own volition and had to have known with substantial certainty that the law of gravity would put the particulate matter on someone’s property somewhere. Legal Reasoning – Issue 2 The court reasoned that the trespassory invasion doesn’t have to be “direct” or an “object, or something tangible”. The court said that weather assures that pollutants deposited in one place will end up somewhere else, even though the actor isn’t watching it. Also, the trespass doesn’t have to be a tangible object because the court held in Martin v. Reynolds Metals that gaseous and particulate matter constituted a trespass. In order to recover for trespass of land, a plaintiff must show 1. An invasion affecting an interest in the exclusive possession of his property. 2. An intentional doing of the act which results in the invasion 3. Reasonable foreseeability that the act done could result in an invasion of P’s possessory interest 4. Substantial damages to the res. Legal Reasoning – Issue 3 The court dismissed his claim because P failed to show actual and substantial damages.
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