On December 24, 1849, a large fire was raging through San Francisco. The mayor, Geary (defendant), blew up Surocco’s (plaintiff) house to create a break and prevent the fire from spreading. If Surocco’s home had not been destroyed, the fire would certainly have engulfed it. Prior to Surocco’s home being destroyed, Surocco was in the process of removing his personal property from inside. Surocco could have successfully removed almost all of his personal property if Geary had not ordered the building destroyed. Surocco sued Geary to recover damages. The jury returned a verdict in Surocco’s favor. Geary appealed the verdict to the Supreme Court of California.