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What is Commercial Trespass on Surface Easements?

What is Commercial Trespass on Surface Easements

Hi, I’m managing partner of Regan Atwood Jeff Regan and I’m going to discuss commercial trespass that can occur in real estate.

Usually you’ll think of trespass in a criminal sense, but trespass occurs in commercial real estate and we’ve had some large civil cases representing clients over real estate trespass disputes.

We’re located in Jacksonville, Florida, with offices in Orlando, Florida. Our firm has handled real estate disputes for clients across the state since 2006.

We once had a situation with a client near Lake City where a mining company owned the mineral rights, but my client owned the surface estate.

Well, the mining company had an easement to go through the property. The problem was is that they grossly overused those easement rights to the point that they actually locked my client out of the property, put up gates and fences and wouldn’t let them into their acreage.

And they wouldn’t give them notice when they were moving the mine operations to another area, because he had in some cases, 20, 30, 40-year-old pine trees sitting out there. They didn’t give him any notice and just mowed down all of their pine trees to get to the phosphate underneath.

And that’s a tremendous amount of money the guy’s lost. If you just give him a little bit of notice, he could’ve got a logging company and done it himself. He just lost a lot of money in that time.

And so, and they said, “It was too dangerous, you can’t be in here.” And we said, “No, I own the property.” To the point that they called the Hamilton County Sheriff’s office on the manager of my client, as he took out his big bolt cutters, cut chain on the fence, and opened it up, and he was
greeted by Hamilton County Sheriff’s office saying, “Don’t you make a move.”

And he said, “I own this property. And I’m coming on my property.” Sheriff’s deputy pulled the gun and pointed at him and he said, “One more move.”

And he said,  “One more move and you’re going to shoot me? I own this property. Go ahead and shoot.” And just walked right on through.

The cop just said, “You know, I think this might be a civil dispute.” So I sued the mining company in federal court.

When we finished the case, we settled it on the courthouse steps, right before it was supposed to go to a month-long jury trial.

But that’s a trespass case not dealing with trespass in a house or building, but what’s described is a commercial trespass in real estate.

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