Saturday, December 1, 2012

Baker v. Howard County Hunt case brief

Baker v. Howard County Hunt
Property Law Case Brief

Overview of the case:
Baker (P), the owner of a farm, sued to enjoin Howard County Hunt (D) from allowing its foxhounds to trespass upon the farm.

-Baker and his wife owned and lived on a farm near areas where Howard County Hunt conducted fox hunts.
-Although Baker did not initially mind the presence of the hunters on his land, the growth of his animal-raising operations soon resulted in friction with the hunting activities.
-In one incident, foxhounds came onto the farm and injured Mrs. Baker. Although Howard County Hunt issued an apology afterwards, Baker contended that the hunting club made no effort to prevent similar trespasses.
-In a later incident, Baker shot some of the foxhounds when they overran his chicken coop. Baker then sued to enjoin Howard County Hunt from committing such trespasses.
-Howard County Hunt argued that the trespasses were intermittent.


May a court grant an injunction enjoining trespasses even though the enjoined party has committed such trespasses only intermittently?


A court may grant this injunction.

Baker has no adequate remedy at law, and he has not committed any acts that violate the “clean hands” requirement of equitable relief. Damages would not provide adequate relief because Baker was using the farm for activities, such as the experimental raising of rabbits, whose monetary value cannot be readily calculated. Furthermore, Howard County Hunt has shown a tendency to trespass repeatedly on the land. It would be unfair to force Baker to file a lawsuit every time such a trespass occurred. Finally, Baker’s shooting of the foxhounds does not amount to an act that violates the “clean hands” requirement of equitable relief. While the law generally prohibits a landowner from shooting a trespassing dog, Baker’s actions fall under the exception that allows the use of such force when the landowner reasonably believes the force to be necessary for the defense of his person or property.

Howard County Hunt cannot take refuge under the doctrine that a dog owner is not liable for the unsupervised actions of a “reputable” dog. Here, the foxhounds did not act independently, as they were under the supervision of Howard County Hunt when the trespasses occurred. In any case, Baker should not be forced to rely on the supposed good nature of the foxhounds when they have, in fact, injured Mrs. Baker.

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