To be liable for civil trespass in Tennessee, the alleged tortfeasor does not have to intend to enter the property of another; he or she can commit trespass while believing the property is his or her own and only needs to intentionally be on the land.
In Barrios v. Simpkins, No. M2021-01347-COA-R3-CV, 2022 WL 16846642 (Tenn. Ct. App. Nov. 10, 2022), plaintiffs and defendants had been involved in extensive litigation related to a boundary line dispute running between their residential properties. In this case, plaintiffs had asserted property related claims as well as a claim for trespass.
After hearing the evidence, the trial court set a boundary line for the disputed property and denied plaintiffs’ claim for adverse possession of the disputed area. It also dismissed plaintiffs’ trespass claim, writing that “[s]ince there was a dispute as to the rightful owner of the property, there could not be a wrongful entry on another’s real property.” On appeal, dismissal of the trespass claim was vacated due to the trial court applying the wrong intent standard to the tort of trespass.