Recently, there have been a number of nuisance and trespass claims filed by homeowners and cities against energy companies. State courts have ruled that the allegations are not overruled by federal environmental laws and state Clean Air Acts. For instance, a Texas court found that a city and homeowners have the right to allege state nuisance and trespass claims against five energy companies, all of whom are accused of polluting private property.
The U.S. Supreme Court decided not to review a ruling made by the Iowa Supreme Court, which found that state law class actions are not preempted by the federal Clean Air Act. This ruling, which was made in December 2014, was appealed by a corn company in Iowa that was alleged by homeowners to have caused harmful odors and perilous pollution in the vicinity of one of its milling facilities. The United States Supreme Court decided not to hear the appeal.
There appears to be a trend of rulings by courts that state nuisance claims are not subject to preemption by federal statutes. However, courts also seem reluctant to allow class action lawsuits to proceed. For instance, in the Third Circuit class action, when the case was remanded, the district court removed the proposed class action plaintiffs because their damages lacked specificity.
A private nuisance is an activity or conduct that interferes with the rights of private landowners; it interferes with one’s quiet enjoyment of the land without including trespass. A public nuisance is where such conduct interferes with the general public’s rights in that it can have an adverse effect on the health and safety of the public.
In a class action, plaintiffs are required to show harm and causation, which are issues that tend to be unique to each individual. In other words, homeowners are more likely to succeed based on claims that they were individually harmed rather than by bringing class action lawsuits on behalf of the entire neighborhood. However, the amount of money collected by each plaintiff was smaller than they would have received had they filed together. The individual suits were only based on the amount by which the value of the property was reduced.
Due to the increasing prevalence of facilities that are closer in proximity to residential areas than in prior years, it is within the right of plaintiffs to file a nuisance claim if they are being harmed by the energy companies’ operations. For instance, there has been a rise in such industries as hydraulic fracturing, and oil and gas exploration, near people’s homes, thereby causing tensions between residents and energy companies.
In order to maintain a cooperative relationship with homeowners and other business owners, energy companies have a responsibility to be conscious of their environment and the people who may be affected by their operations.
Seeking Legal Advice
If someone is interfering with the quiet enjoyment of your home or business, and thus, creating a nuisance, you should consult a nuisance attorney who will help you obtain an injunction against the wrongdoer and secure damages for any injuries you may have suffered.
Authored by Roxanne Minott, LegalMatch Legal Writer and Attorney at Law
A dog may not be a man's best friend. Indeed, one that constantly barks may be disruptive and may cause your property to drop in value. So, what can you do when your neighbor's dog barks constantly? Well, you may sue your neighbor for nuisance.
Amount to Sue For
A barking dog will most likely be considered a small claims matter. For small claims court, you are limited by the amount you may recover. Even so, determining the amount you are wronged by is always a challenge and difficult to calculate. First, you should factor in all the actual financial losses you have incurred. For example, the cost of replacing bushes the dog broke, and maybe even the cost of putting in sound-proof windows. Second, you may put a price tag on the amount of quiet enjoyment of your property that you have lost due to the barking dog.
If you believe the barking dog has caused you more than the allowable amount in small claims court, you may always escalate your case to the regular court system.
Nuisance laws vary between states. Typically, nuisance is proven where your neighbor unreasonably interferes with the use and enjoyment of your property. For example, loud parties and unkempt front yards are considered nuisances. Also, you may check your local zoning ordinances on what they consider to be a nuisance.
Your Day In Court
Some small claims courts do not allow attorney representation, in which you must advocate for yourself. Hence, you should carefully document your case and prepare your argument to the court.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
Possibly. A real estate lawyer can help you prepare all of your small claims court filing, and prepare you for any questions that the judge may ask you. Furthermore, a lawyer can help you assess your case and see whether you have any flaws in your arguments.
Some of commendable goals of Arizona Housing Finance Authority are to provide safe and affordable housing, assistance to help aid homeless and special needs populations and to meet ongoing efforts to keep Arizonans from losing their homes. The AHFPFC made combined commitments of over $164 million in state and federal assistance to support housing and community development activities throughout the state of Arizona. Additionally, through the federally funded Save Our Home AZ Program, over 1,230 families were able to avoid foreclosure. Through their various resources the AZHFA was able to assist over 95,000 Arizonans in 2013, most of whom are low income, offering them some type of housing assistance. Those AZ citizens not qualifying for state aid were often assisted by Arizona Real Estate attorneys, often located by people using the LegalMatch.com attorney/cleint matching service
We have all heard about how bad smoking can be for our health. In addition to the mandatory labeling on cigarette cartons, the Department of Health and other public and private agencies spend lots of money on commercials and advertising targeting potential and current smokers. There is also the push to inform people about the negative effects of second hand smoke.
And now there is a lawsuit to show just how seriously people take these affronts to their health, but it is not your typical second hand smoke lawsuit.
As a condominium buyer in Massachusetts, Alyssa Buyrrage was also an asthmatic with concerns for her respiratory health. But her second hand smoke lawsuit is not against a smoker, as one may initially think - but rather it is against her real estate broker for his failure to disclose this deal-breaking aspect of the building.
When Burrage spoke with her real estate agent about purchasing her condo, he never mentioned that her downstairs neighbors were heavy smokers. Massachusetts real estate brokers must disclose to a buyer “any fact, the disclosure of which may have influenced the buyer or prospective buyer not to enter into the transaction.” Although she admittedly smelled “the unmistakable stench” of cigarette smoke at several visits to the unit, her broker assured her that the smell would dissipate once she painted and renovated the unit.
Ms. Burrage claims that she wouldn’t have purchased the unit in the first place if she had known about the smoke problem and her attempts at stopping the smokers were futile.
A recent LegalMatch study revealed an interest in second hand smoke lawsuits, but primarily in the realm of workplace issues (employers not protecting their employees) and class actions against tobacco companies.
Second hand smoke is an interesting area of litigation and also a major health concerns. The recent “failure to disclose” case is a less charted area of this subject but may become more prevalent in the future if this case is successful in setting a precedent. However, I think it is hard to impose a strict duty on the real estate agent with such a subjective and fluid standard. Put simply, what matters to some might now matter to others, and there is very little clarity on what has the potential to be "material". That being said, things are about to get a lot more clear!
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