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Law School Case Brief

Hinman v. Pac. Air Transp. - 84 F.2d 755 (9th Cir. 1936)


We own so much of the space above the ground as we can occupy or make use of, in connection with the enjoyment of our land. This right is not fixed. It varies with our varying needs and is coextensive with them. The owner of land owns as much of the space above him or her as is used, but only so long as he or she uses it. All that lies beyond belongs to the world.


Hinman, the landowner, filed suit against the airlines seeking injunctive relief and damages for alleged trespasses of airline flights over his land. The district court dismissed Hinman’s suits.


Were the airlines liable for damages for trespassing over Hinman’s property?




The court affirmed the decree of the district court. The court held that Hinman did not allege an injury by trespass that was legally sufficient. The court found that traversing the airspace above land was not a trespass but was a lawful act and, therefore, Hinman was not entitled to an injunction or nominal damages.

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