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Clark v. Wambold

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Brief Fact Summary.

The Supreme Court of Wisconsin ruled that a property owner cannot, through the doctrine of nuisance, seek an injunction against a neighboring parcel for use of the property that is both lawful and reasonable.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

A property owner, under the doctrine of nuisance, may not seek an injunction against a neighboring property where the neighbor is using the property both lawfully and reasonably. 

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

If they are raised there under conditions as clean and sanitary as can reasonably be attained considering the characteristics of the animal and the necessity for confinement in close quarters, the fact that odors from those quarters are carried abroad on the summer breeze will not make an actionable nuisance.

View Full Point of Law

Wambold (Defendant) owned and operated a farm on his property next to Clark (Plaintiff). The Defendant has always kept pigs on his property and has always kept them in a pen bordering the Plaintiff’s property. The odors of the pig drift into the Plaintiff’s yard despite the Defendant reasonably keeping the pigs both clean and sanitary. The Plaintiff does not appreciate the smells coming from the Defendant’s property and seeks an injunction to remove the pigs from the Defendant’s property. The trial court ruled in favor of the Defendant and dismissed the injunction. Plaintiff appeals. 


Whether under a theory of nuisance, can a property owner seek an injunction to remove pigs that are reasonably clean and sanitary but may cause odors to drift to neighboring properties?


No. A property owner may not seek an injunction under the doctrine of nuisance, when the land is being used lawfully and reasonably. The court emphasizes that as long as the property owner is acting lawfully and reasonably on the property no nuisance can be determined. 

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