RELATING TO WILLFUL TIMBER TRESPASS
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 25, DELAWARE CODE OF 1953 BY PROVIDING FOR DAMAGES IN CIVIL SUITS FOR WILLFUL TIMBER TRESPASS.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware:
Section 1. Title 25, Delaware Code of 1953 is amended by adding at the end of Part I thereof a new chapter to read as follows:
Chapter 14. Timber Trespass
§ 1401. Court's authority to determine whether trespass unintentional or willful; exemplary and actual damages
In civil actions brought for an act of timber trespass the court shall have authority to determine whether such trespass was unintentional or willful and award damages accordingly. If the plaintiff shall satisfy the court that the metes and bounds of his property at the place of the trespass were appropriately established and marked by reasonably permanent and visible markers or establish that the trespasser was on notice that the rights of the plaintiff were in jeopardy, the court shall find that the trespass was willful and shall award exemplary damages equal to triple the fair value of the trees removed plus the cost of litigation. If, however, the court shall find that the trespass was unintentional, the court may award the plaintiff damages equal to the conversion value of the trees taken or damaged plus cost of litigation.
§ 1402. Method for ascertaining value of trees removed
In the absence of a more accurate means of ascertaining the value of trees removed in a timber trespass, the court may accept that figure which shall be arrived at by accepting the diameters of the stumps of the severed trees measured inside the bark as the assumed diameter of the trees measured outside the bark at 414 feet above the ground and apply the values given for gross tree volume as published in U. S. D. A., Farmers Bulletin No. 1989, and the numerous privately published forestry publications which give board foot volume contents of timber trees based on the International Long Rule formula.
§ 1403. Failure of defendant to answer
If the defendant in an action, as provided in this chapter, shall not appear or shall not answer the complaint at the return of the writ or notice served therefor, the court shall determine the trespass willful and award damages accordingly.
§ 1404. Abatement of action
An action begun under this chapter shall not abate by the death of either party thereto but shall be continued by the administrator or executor.
§ 1405. Notice to adjacent owners of intention to commence cutting timber
In the event the owner or his agent shall not send notice by registered mail to adjacent owners of his intention to commence cutting timber, such owner and/or agent shall be deemed guilty of willful timber trespass and shall be subject to damages accordingly.
Approved July 1, 1953.