Saturday, December 1, 2012

Hinman v. Pacific Air Transport case brief

Hinman v. Pacific Air Transport

Case Overview
Hinman (P) sued to enjoin Pacific Air Transport (D) from flying its airplanes over his house and for damages resulting from the flights that had already occurred.

Facts of the Case
Airplanes operated by Pacific Air Transport (“Pacific”) regularly flew at altitudes of less than 100 feet over Hinman’s land. Hinman requested that Pacific stop these flights, but Pacific disregarded the requests. Hinman then sued, arguing that the ad coelum rule gave him the right to prevent aircraft from flying above his land and that such flights were trespasses.

Does the ad coelum rule create an unlimited property right to the airspace above a person’s land, so that flying an airplane over that land constitutes trespass?

The ad coelum rule does not confer an unlimited right to restrict access to the airspace above one’s land.

The ad coelum rule was never meant to be taken literally, and the interpre- tation of the ad coelum rule advocated by Hinman would result in absurd consequences. Holding that Pacific’s overflights constitute trespass would al- low every landowner to prevent airplanes from flying above his or her land. Such a rule would be unenforceable.

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