What’s the difference between nuisance and trespass? How is nuisance used for environmental law?

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TitleWhat’s the difference between nuisance and trespass? How is nuisance used for environmental law?
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Torts - Nuisance


Understand what nuisance is

What factors go into deciding if there’s a nuisance?

What’s the difference between public nuisance and private nuisance?

What’s the difference between nuisance and trespass?

How is nuisance used for environmental law?

Apply knowledge to factual scenarios

Nuisance is the intentional interference with another’s use and enjoyment of their property.

Needs to be an unreasonable and substantial interference.

Padilla v. Lawrence flies.jpg

600 feet from bark and manure processing plant. Lived there 25 years; plant there five years. Other houses in area too. “Odors, dust, noise & flies”. Smells like dead animal or rotten fish. Can’t cook in summer and can’t use evaporative cooling. Dad has nosebleeds and choking, so mom and dad moved out, son still lives there. Value of home reduced. Court says unreasonable use, especially in light of residences being there first.

FACTORS (What’s the difference between a factor and an element?):

Whether the plaintiff has suffered substantial harm

The defendant’s ability to bear the loss (for example, being able to pass the cost on to customers or to carry insurance against such a loss)

How the defendant used his or her property

Whether the defendant’s conduct suited that locale

Whether the defendant or the plaintiff was there first

Rodrigue v. Copeland xmas lights.jpg

Copeland has extravagant Xmas display early December through January 5, goes to midnight. Residential neighborhood. Traffic, can’t get to your house, noise, parking, public peeing, property damage, can’t have own Xmas parties. Mere inconvenience or real damage? Injunction granted.

Even if illegal activity, still may not be a nuisance. Depends on interference. (12 Scottish Terrriers)

Cunningham v. Quintanilla OB p. 328 dentist.jpg

Dentist’s office on main street with no parking lot. Dentist and employees parking on side street around plaintiff’s house. Plaintiff having trouble getting out of driveway, sometimes blocked. Starts videotaping interactions with dentist and employees, catches dentist throwing something at car. Private nuisance. Even though dentist there first by many years, court grants injunction. Dentist and patients not allowed to park on opposite side of street from plaintiff (city made plaintiff’s side no parking for other reasons).

Nuisance v. Trespass

Trespass deals with exclusive possession invasion; Nuisance deals with enjoyment of your land. Trespass does not require significant harm.

Private Nuisance

Landowner or Tenant could sue

Page County Appliance Center v. Honeywell, OB p. 335 honeywell.jpg

Store been there for almost 30 years when the travel agency next door installed a computer in place. The computer was built and maintained by Honeywell. Computer caused TV’s at appliance center to go fuzzy. Complained to Honeywell; Honeywell investigates and determine it’s a design problem, not a defect. Threatens lawsuit, which finally causes expert to come expert. Expert got 70% improvement. Lawsuit filed. Problem resolved two years after computer first installed. ITT and Honeywell argue that store’s TVs are hypersensitive. Court affirms jury award of $71,000.

Public Nuisance - violates public right

Example: Blocking entry to state park is a public nuisance.

Government has standing to sue, but not individual. Private citizen can only sue for public nuisance if citizen personally has special injury from the public nuisance.

B & W Management v. Tasea Investment OB p. 337 parking-structure-sticker_~k2143067.jpg

B & W operates two story parking lot. Tasea operates surface parking lot that is an aesthetic blight on neighborhood. Since B & W’s injury is not special, can’t make public nuisance lawsuit. Also, can’t make private nuisance because no substantial interference.


Damages: fmv, costs of repair, or other damages (can get psychological damages too)


Abatement - plaintiff can enter defendant’s land to fix the problem.

Wood v. Picillo, NB p. 293 c:\documents and settings\kevin muir\local settings\temporary internet files\content.ie5\yeioxe5m\mm900282796[1].gif

Wetlands area. The Picillos have a large piece of property, and they have devoted five acres of the property for toxic waste dumping. The lawsuit was prompted by an explosion and fifty-foot high fire on the property, but neighbors had been complaining for a while of health problems and concerns about water contamination. Trial court issued an injunction and ordered defendants to pay for clean- up. Picillos argued neither a public nor a private nuisance; Supreme Court concluded it was BOTH a public and private nuisance (lawsuit brought by State of Rhode Island and Wood).

Silva Melville, OB p. 343 cranberries_~k2933743.jpg

Neighbor with cranberry bog floods his property twice a year, causing water level to rise on plaintiff’s property. Court says this is a necessary and reasonable use, so not unreasonable use, so no injunction. However, jury allowed to award trespass damages.

Sauvie Island nudists? stickfigure.jpg

Property owners sued the State Department of Fish and Wildlife, alleging that existence of nude beaches abutting their property constituted a nuisance. Conditions created private nuisance and issued mandatory injunction to abate it. Department appealed.

Holdings: The Court of Appeals held that

(1) activities associated with beaches, including sexual activity, constituted nuisance;

(2) coming to nuisance doctrine did not apply; and

(3) Department failed to undertake reasonable mitigation measures.

“defendant shall adequately staff the area in and around plaintiffs' property to adequately police compliance”; “defendant shall establish a buffer of sufficient length to avoid viewing of nude sunbathers on Collins Beach from plaintiffs' real property”; “defendant shall sufficiently sign the North boundary”-

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