Trespass to Chattel

A claim for trespass to chattel is based upon conduct that intentionally dispossess another person of personal property or interferes with another person’s personal property. For example, a claim for trespass to chattel may arise where a person damages another person’s personal property or temporarily seizes control of it.

A victim of trespass to chattel may recover compensatory damages, such as for loss in value or loss of use of the subject personal property. Punitive damages may also be available in particularly egregious cases.

A claim for trespass to chattel generally must be brought within three years of the date on which the claim accrues.

For information about other civil claims recognized in the District of Columbia, click here. For information about how to use this guide, click here.

[Sources: Douglas C. Melcher, Tort Claims and Defenses in the District of Columbia § 6 (2014), and legal authorities cited therein.]