Glavin v Eckman – 881 N.E. 2d 820

Case Name: Glavin v Eckman
Citation:  881 N.E. 2d 820 (Mass. App. Ct. 2008)
Plaintiff: James A. Glavin
Defendant: Bruce and Shelly Eckman; Jon R. Fragosa

Issue: Whether the judge erred in permitting the jury to award a restoration cost measure of damages, rather than damages measured by the value of the timber wrongfully cut, or by the diminutive market value.

Key Facts: The defendants (Eckmans) hired an independent contractor (Fragosa) to cut down ten oak trees that were on the property the plaintiff (Glavin) , without his permission, in order to enhance their view. Glavin had previously been asked by Eckman to have this done but refused to and stated that he planned to use the ten oak trees as shade for a pond which he planned to restore.

Procedural History: The jury awarded Glavin $30,000 to restore his land. They found that both Eckman and Fragosa were at fault.

Holding: According to Mass. Gen Law statute, Glavin was able to opt for the value of the timber cut or the diminutive value of his property as the measure of damages. However, if this does not meet the value of the damages, he may opt for restorative damages.

Reasoning: Glavin was not planning on selling the land so diminutive market value should not be the main measure of damages. The trees had significant value to Glavin. Direct restoration may be physically impossible or disproportionally expensive that it be unreasonable to do so.

Judgment: The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s award to Glavin of $30,000.