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Spur Industries, Inc. v. Del E. Webb Development Co.

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Plaintiff owned a plot of land that was adjacent to Defendants. Plaintiff wanted to develop the land to use as a retirement community. Defendant used its land to raise cattle. Plaintiff brought suit against Defendant to enjoin Defendant from raising cattle on its land deeming the smell of the cattle operations to be a nuisance. 

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    If the public develops land in the area of a public nuisance, the party, who is responsible for creating the nuisance, must stop creating the nuisance, but latter is entitled to just compensation. 

    Facts.

    Del E. Webb Development Co. (“Plaintiff”) was developing a retirement community for senior citizens on land that is adjacent to a land that Spur Industries, Inc. (“Defendant”) owned. Defendant was a cattle-raising company. Plaintiff’s purchase of the land took place after the Defendant initially had cattle its cattle farm on its land. Plaintiff instigated this action against Defendant contending that the smell from the cattle operations constituted a nuisance. Thus, the court should issue an injunction against Defendant. The trial court held in Plaintiff’s favor, and petitioned for certiorari to the Supreme Court of Arizona.

    Issue.

    Whether the party, who is responsible for creating the nuisance, must stop creating the nuisance when the public develops land in the area of a public nuisance.

    Held.

    Yes, the party, who is responsible for creating the nuisance, must stop creating the nuisance, but latter is entitled to just compensation, when the public develops land in the area of a public nuisance

    Discussion.

    If the public develops land in the area of a public nuisance, the party, who is responsible for creating the nuisance, must stop creating the nuisance, but latter is entitled to just compensation. Here, Defendant’s cattle operations constitute a nuisance because the production of manure attracts flies to the area and the manure has a very pungent smell. Further, because this nuisance impacts a large number of homes in Plaintiff’s development, this nuisance constitutes a public nuisance. Nonetheless, Defendant’s cattle operations were in existence before Plaintiff’s purchase of its land. Still,because a public nuisance exists, Defendant may be enjoined from continuing to operate its cattle operations, but Defendant is entitled to compensation from Plaintiff. Therefore, the trial court’s decision is remanded with instructions consistent with this opinion.


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