Ejectment – an owner or occupier who was wrongfully ejected recovers possession, damages, & costs

Definition of Ejectment:

(16c.) 1. The ejection of an owner or occupier from property.  2. A legal action by which a person wrongfully ejected from property seeks to recover possession, damages, & costs.  3. The writ by which such an action is begun.  The essential allegations in an action for ejectment are that:

1.) The plaintiff has title to the land.

2.) The plaintiff has been wrongfully dispossessed or ousted.

3.) The plaintiff has suffered damages.

— Also termed action of ejectment; action for the recovery of land; ejection. See FORCIBLE ENTRY AND DETAINER. [1]


Note: Ejectments differ from evictions and ousters.


     Excerpt from George W. Warvelle’s A Treatise on the Principles & Practice of the Action of Ejectment:

    “The evolution of the action of ejectment from its primitive form as a mere action of trespass, enabling a lessee of lands to recover damages when ousted of his possession, through a series of most ingenious fiction, which were afterwards added to enable him to recover possession as well, until its final establishment as the proper method of trying all disputed titles to real property, presents to the student of legal science one of the most interesting studies that the history of the law affords. Few remedies have passed through so many changes of form, both in pleading & practice, & yet retained the same distinctive character that marked their origin.” [2]

     Excerpt from R.F.V. Heuston’s Salmond on the Law of Torts:

     “Any person wrongfully dispossessed of land may sue for the specific restitution of it in an action of ejectment. Originally this action was a special variety of trespass & available only to leaseholders. But in time & by the aid of the most elaborate fictions it came to be used by freeholders also. All these fictions have now been swept away; in theory even the term ejectment has been replaced by the term action for the recovery of land. The older term is, however, replaced in practice.” [3]


(17c.) 1. The act of violently taking & keeping possession of lands & tenements without legal authority.”

     Excerpt from Rollin M. Perkins & Ronald N. Boyce’s Criminal Law  & Procedure:

     “To walk across another’s land, or to enter his building without privilege, is a trespass, but thin itself, while a civil wrong, is not a crime. However, if an entry upon real estate is accomplished by violence or intimidation, or if such methods are employed for detention after a peaceable entry, there is a crime according to English law, known as forcible entry & detainer. This was a common-law offense in England, although supplemented by English statutes that are old enough to be common law in this country… it has sometimes been said that there are two separate offenses — 1.) forcible entry 2.) forcible detainer. This may be true under the peculiar wording of some particular statute, but in general it seems to be one offense which may be committed in two different ways.” [4]

“2. A quick & simple legal proceeding for regaining possession of real property from someone who has wrongfully taken, or refused to surrender, possession. — Abbr. FED. — Also termed forcible detainer.

     Excerpt from Benjamin J. Shipman’s Handbook of Common-Law Pleading:

     “Forcible entry & detainer is a remedy given by statute for the recovery of possession of land & of damages for its detention. It is entirely regulated by statute, & the statutes vary materially in the different states.” [5]

Related Actions:

Action for Mesne Profits following a successful action of ejectment, a lawsuit filed by the landowner to recover from losses/damages suffered as a result of:

1.) the use of the land during the wrongful occupation

2.) the costs of ejectment.


Federal Laws & Legal Remedies to Protect Native (“Indian”) Landowners



[1]: All definitions from: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6

[2]: George W. Warvelle’s A Treatise on the Principles & Practice of the Action of Ejectment § 4, at 4-5 (1905)

[3]: R.F.V. Heuston, Salmond on the Law of Torts 41 (17th ed. 1977)

[4]: Rollin M. Perkins & Ronald N. Boyce, Criminal Law  & Procedure 487-88 (3d. ed. 1982): www.amazon.com/Criminal-Law-Procedure-University-Casebooks/dp/1599412489
[5]:Benjamin J. Shipman, Handbook of Common-Law Pleading § 74, at 188 (Henry Winthrop Ballantine ed. 1923):  www.worldcat.org/title/handbook-of-common-law-pleading/oclc/60737313


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