REVERSED AND REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS.
The plaintiff John Burkhart brought this suit to restrain the defendant Henry H. Cartwright (whose name was erroneously stated in the pleadings as Henry L. Cartwright) and George Dunham from a threatened trespass upon his lands and as ancillary relief sought damages for injuries suffered by reason of a prior trespass.
The defendants denied a wrongful trespass and sought damages for breach of contract under which they assert plaintiff sold to the defendant Cartwright all of the growing timber upon approximately 9 acres of land.
The trial court denied plaintiff's injunctive relief, found plaintiff had breached his agreement with defendant Cartwright, and awarded Cartwright a judgment in the sum of $2,091.13. From the decree of the trial court the plaintiff appeals.
Plaintiff's evidence is to the effect that he was the owner of approximately 9 acres of land and the State Highway Commission was appropriating approximately one-half of that area for highway purposes; that he was interested in selling the fir and oak timber on the right-of-way land; that on December 12, 1956, he was contacted at his home by defendant Cartwright who wanted to purchase trees; that plaintiff made an offer to sell the fir and oak timber at $2 per cord, but no contract was ever effected; that there was no discussion of trees other than those upon the property to be taken by the right-of-way. Plaintiff's statement of what occurred is as follows:
The defendant Cartwright's version is that there was a meeting of the minds as to all of the timber on all of the property, his evidence being that he was in the fuel business; that he was interested in purchasing all of the fir and oak on these premises not just the portion being taken for highway purposes. Cartwright testified as follows:
The trial court accepted as true the defendant's testimony and we see no reason not to do likewise.
The question then posed is — What was the agreement of the parties and its legal effect?
1. It is clear there was an agreement to pay and an agreement to accept $2 per cord for the fir and $3 per cord for the oak and that this applied to all of the property, not just that portion being taken by the state; that payment could be made by the purchaser upon either ascertainment of the amount of wood after the whole was cut and before removal or by keeping record of what was cut and removed, and this at the option of the purchaser. In this respect, the record shows the purchaser elected to cut and remove as cut.
The defendant Cartwright was granted until the
2. Growing timber is real property and any conveyance thereof separate and apart from the land must be in writing (Anderson et ux v. Moothart, 198 Or. 354, 256 P.2d 257), unless the agreement is such that the growing timber falls within the definition of "goods" under the Uniform Sales Act. Paullus v. Yarbrough, 219 Or. 611, 347 P.2d 620. To bring an oral agreement within the terms of the Act there must be found in the agreement an absolute duty upon the purchaser to sever the trees. Reid v. Kier et al., 175 Or. 192, 152 P.2d 417. No such agreement here exists. The most that can be said is that the defendant had permission to enter into and cut the timber, which permission would terminate upon one portion of the property April 1st and on the other a year from the making of the agreement.
3. Under such circumstances, only an oral license to enter and cut was granted, title to the growing trees passing only after severance from the soil. The agreement of the parties being executory, the license could be revoked at any time, unless such valuable and permanent improvements had been made by the licensee in reliance thereon that its revocation would amount to the perpetration of a fraud. Anderson et ux. v. Moothart, supra.
4. The defendants expended some moneys for a tractor, the amount not being shown, to clear brush for a roadway on plaintiff's premises, and also expended $23.50 for gravel used on the road. We are of the opinion that these slight expenditures upon the road are not sufficient to be considered as such valuable
The plaintiff is entitled to a decree permanently enjoining the defendants from entering in and upon plaintiff's land and falling any growing timber thereon. The decree should also provide that the defendants have the right to remove the timber cut by them prior to the commencement of this suit, or, if any of this cut timber has been converted by the plaintiff, a judgment should be entered in favor of the defendant Cartwright and against the plaintiff for the value thereof.
This cause is reversed and remanded with instructions to take such action and enter such decree as is consistent with this opinion.
Neither party shall recover costs in this court.