Hetzel v. Baltimore & Ohio R. Co. - 169 U.S. 26 (1898)
U.S. Supreme Court
Hetzel v. Baltimore & Ohio R. Co., 169 U.S. 26 (1898)
Hetzel v. Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company
Argued November 9, 1897
Decided January 8, 1898
169 U.S. 26
This was an action to recover damages for injury done to certain land in the City of Washington by reason of the illegal occupation by a railroad company of the street on which the land abutted. The land constituted original lot one in square 630, and long prior to the action, it had been subdivided between the owners, and a plat thereof recorded. In the partition, it was provided that the alleys marked on the plat were exclusively for the sole benefit and use of the sub-lots, should be private and under the control of all owners of property thereon, and that, except as provided, could not be closed unless by common consent. Before the action was brought, the plaintiff had become the owner of the fee of all the sub-lots constituting original lot one. Held,
(1) If the plaintiff did not own all of original lot one, she was entitled to recover damages for any injury done to such part of it as she did own.
(2) The plaintiff, being the owner of all the sub-lots, was entitled, under the deed, to close the alleys altogether, and therefore it was error to instruct the jury that she could not have conveyed a good title to the land marked on the plat as alleys.
(3) The plaintiff was entitled to recover such damages as were equivalent to or would fairly compensate her for the injury done to her land by the defendant. Absolute certainty as to damages in such cases is impossible. All that the law requires is that such damages be allowed as, in the judgment of fair men, directly and naturally resulted from the injury for which suit is brought. What the plaintiff was entitled to was reasonable compensation for tile wrongs done to her.
The case is stated in the opinion.