General Provisions

CHAPTER 14. Timber Trespass

§ 1401. Liability for damages; court’s authority to determine whether trespass intentional; exemplary and actual damages.

(a) Whoever wilfully, negligently or maliciously cuts down or fells or causes to be cut down or felled a tree or trees growing upon the land of another, without the consent of the owner, shall be liable for damages as set forth in subsection (b) of this section.

(b) In civil actions brought for an act of timber trespass the court shall have the authority to determine whether such trespass was unintentional or wilful and award damages accordingly. If the plaintiff shall satisfy the court that the metes and bounds of that plaintiff’s 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 wilful 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.

25 Del. C. 1953, §  1401;  49 Del. Laws, c. 23661 Del. Laws, c. 384, §  170 Del. Laws, c. 186, §  1

§ 1402. Method of 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 41/4 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.

25 Del. C. 1953, §  1402;  49 Del. Laws, c. 236.

§ 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 wilful and award damages accordingly.

25 Del. C. 1953, §  1403;  49 Del. Laws, c. 236.

§ 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.

25 Del. C. 1953, §  1404;  49 Del. Laws, c. 236.