September 29th, 2022
What is a Private Nuisance?
In our civil justice system, “nuisance” is a term of art used to describe the wrongful invasion of a legal right or interest. Typically, nuisance lawsuits involve the invasion of property rights. Owning property entitles you to certain fundamental privileges. For instance, property owners enjoy:  the right to prohibit others from entering or using their property (the “right to exclude”);  the right to derive income from their property (the “right of control”); and  the right to transfer property ownership to another person (the “right to dispose”).
Lawsuits involving a private nuisance generally involve the invasion of a property owner’s “right of quiet enjoyment.” The right of quiet enjoyment prevents others from wrongfully interfering with your ability to reap the full benefits of your property.
For example, imagine that you decided to build a home in a remote area of Washington County, Ohio. You and your spouse chose the location for the purpose of raising your children in a tranquil, natural setting far away from the hustle of metropolitan life. One day, you learn that a company has purchased the undeveloped land a couple hundred feet outside your front door to build a large factory. Construction on the factory commences. Trucks and heavy machinery are constantly operating outside, and it’s no longer possible to keep your windows open from the noise and dust being kicked up by the passing trailers. You hoped that after the construction was finished, the issues would abate, but all the aggravating conditions have stayed the same or worsened. Family members wonder out loud who would ever offer to buy your home given your new noisy neighbor.
As a general principle, everyone that owns real property, be they individual or business, has the right to conduct lawful activities within their respective boundaries. However, the rights of neighboring property owners often conflict with one another. Private nuisance claims can provide some relief for the troubled homeowner in the form of monetary damages. These damages are intended to compensate you for the difference between the fair market value of your home before and after the introduction of the nuisance neighbor. You may also be eligible for damages for the annoyance and aggravation of being subject to months/years of disruptive conditions.
If the above scenario hits close to home, we’d be happy to discuss your potential claim.