Keeble v. Hickeringill – Case Brief
Summary of Keeble v. Hickeringill, Queen’s Bench, 11 East 574, 103 Eng. Rep. 1127 (1707).
Facts: Keeble (P) placed duck decoys and nets in a pond on his land and sold the captured ducks for profit. Hickeringill fired guns near Keeble’s land merely to frighten and drive away the ducks, not to capture them for himself. Keeble brought an action in trespass on the case and was awarded 20 pounds. Hickeringill appealed.
Issue: Can a party recover against another for malicious interference with his ability to use his land for pleasure and profit?
Holding and Rule: Yes. A party can recover against another for interfering maliciously with his ability to use his land for pleasure and profit.
Keeble’s use of his property to capture ducks and sell them for profit was lawful. Every man has the right to use his land for his pleasure and profit. An action lies in all cases where a defendant commits malicious acts interfering with the profession or livelihood of another. However, if Hickeringill had set up decoys on his own property to capture them for himself, no action would lie because he has as much liberty in the use of his land as the plaintiff.
Notes: This is a property law case, not a torts case. Keeble did not bring this lawsuit to recover for the value of waterfowl he was unable to capture as a result of Hickeringill’s actions. The judgment was compensation for Hickeringill’s interference with the use of his real estate.
See District of Columbia v. Heller for a constitutional law case brief addressing the issue of whether the Second Amendment to the Constitution grants a private right to own and keep guns on one’s property.