Ivancic v. Olmstead
Facts: Since 1970, Olmstead owned the property next to Ivancic's parent's property and at the base of Olmstead property stood a maple tree adjacent to Ivancic's parents property. The branches of the maple tree extended over into the side of Ivancic's property. On 26 September 1980, Ivancic was working on his truck in the driveway of his parent's property when a heavy windstorm caused a branch from the maple tree to fall and injure Ivancic. Ivancic filed a lawsuit against Olmstead for interposing causes of action in negligence and common-law trespass. The trial court declined to hear the case of the common law trespassing and solely on the negligence. During the trial court, the jury awarded Ivancic $3,500. Both Ivancic and Olmstead moved to set aside the verdict, Ivancic did because of inadequacy, and Olmstead because of the verdict was against the weight of the evidence. The court ordered a new trial based on liability and damages. At the Appellate Division, the verdict was reversed and the complaint was dismissed.

Issue(s) Presented: The issues presented when considering the negligence cause of action is if the Olmstead had knowledge that the maple tree on their property was defective and could have fell to cause injuries.

Holding: Ivancic made no claim that Olmstaed had actual knowledge of the defective nature of the maple tree. It is necessary to consider whether there was sufficient evidence for a jury to conclude that Olmstead had constructive notice.

Rationale: There was no evidence present of indication that the tree was diseases or decayed. No witness testified that they observed decayed limbs, withered or dead leaves, or discoloration that would indicate disease. The constructive notice in reference to the liability of falling trees, there is no duty to check each tree that has no visible signs of disease or decay. And there is no further action required for the owner to take to prevent harm. Ivancic's expert witness testified that he did not see the limb until the day of the trail and all remained was an eight-foot stump. He also testified that through pictures that he summed up the cause of the decay, but indicated that since it was eight feet high, it would be difficult if not impossible for a reasonable person or landowner to notice decay. These statements testified indicated that since Olmstead did not inspect the tree in ten years is irreverent.
2. When reviewing the claim by Ivancic that the trail court error in denying the common-law trespass, they examined the case of Phillips v. Sun Oil Co. they concluded that for a trespasser to be held liable, the trespasser does not intend to cause damages but must act as an unlawful invasion. In the following case since Olmstead did not plant the tree and she allowed the tree to grow healthy and naturally cross into Ivancic's parent's property, it is not an intended act of trespassing.
Justice Jasen's conclusion was there was no sufficient evidence present that indicated that Olmstead intended to cause the injury to Ivancic through the actions of neglecting to inspect what was visibly a healthy tree. Also, that the claim of common law trespass was correctly dismissed by the trial court due to elements surrounding the act of trespassing where not met.