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Nuisance Cases

January 23, 2023

By Thomas McCutcheon

A friend of mine practices in Chicago and is a truly great lawyer.  Years ago, we were talking about cases that we handled, and he had sort of pioneered nuisance cases in Illinois.  What was happening is that industrial hog farming in large, concentrated facilities was beginning to be utilized by large pork-producing companies.  There’s no one in Alabama who hasn’t seen large chicken houses, and these pork producers were concentrating on feeding and fattening up hogs for commercial sale. 

When one of these commercial pork-producing facilities went into production, the sheer about of waste would produce odors that would ruin what had been happy homes.  My friend developed the theory that these smells and odors were a form of trespass that devalued his clients’ property, and he was quite successful in gaining compensation for his clients.  One can only imagine how disappointing it would be to wake up smelling ammonia and other waste products every day in what had been a peaceful and happy home. 

Alabama recently had a case where the court put together several other cases and recognized that “a nuisance is “anything that works hurt, inconvenience, or damage to another,” as long as the hurt or inconvenience is not “fanciful or such as would affect only one of the fastidious taste.”  A private nuisance can include almost any disturbance that interferes with the enjoyment of property. 

“The plaintiff in an Alabama nuisance action ‘must show conduct, be it intentional, unintentional, or negligent, on the defendant’s part, which was the breach of a legal duty, and which factually and proximately caused the complained-of hurt, inconvenience, or damage.’” In order to prevail, a plaintiff in a nuisance action must demonstrate both “but-for” (factual) and proximate (legal), causation. 

In addition, under Alabama law, “a business may be held liable for a nuisance caused by those trucks traveling on nearby public roads even if the trucks are owned and operated by independent third parties.”

Smells that are offensive or produce such consequences, inconvenience, or discomfort, as to impair the comfortable enjoyment of the property by persons of ordinary sensibilities can constitute a nuisance under Alabama law. 

Buckle up, drive safely, and as always, your referrals are appreciated!


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