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What is a nuisance claim?
A nuisance lawsuit is a legal claim that usually stems from one person's (or a business's) interference with an individual's right to use of enjoyment of their property. There are two types of nuisance claims: public nuisance and private nuisance.
In a public nuisance, there is the unreasonable interference with the common rights of the public, not the specific rights of any one individual. This could be activity that disrupts the general welfare, peace or safety of the public. Public nuisances are sometimes classified as crimes, and an action for public nuisance is usually initiated by a city attorney or some other public official. Indecency and environmental pollution are two examples of acts that might be considered a public nuisance.
In a private nuisance, there is activity which disturbs one person or one entity's use and quiet enjoyment of private property. The action harms that landowner specifically. For example, a private nuisance could include noise disturbances emitted from nearby properties, or odors stemming from adjacent properties during manufacturing or some other activity.
In order to bring a successful private nuisance claim, you must demonstrate certain legal elements that vary from state to state. Typically, these include:
1) unreasonable, unwarranted, or unlawful interference with use and enjoyment of property.
2) the resulting harm is outweighed by the social benefit of the nuisance, and
3) the resulting damages are significant, and the kind that would be suffered by a normal person (or normal property) in the same community (in other words, the plaintiff is not hyper-sensitive).
In a successful nuisance lawsuit, a property owner may be able to recover money damages and/or injunctive relief. In this context, injunctive relief would be a legal order that requires a property owner to stop using his or her property in a particular way. For example, if a neighboring property owner is playing loud music 24 hours a day, an injunction would force the property owner to stop that activity.
by: David Goguen, J.D.
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