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Brown v. County Commissioners of Scioto County

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Brown filed suit against County Commissioners of Scioto County claiming nuisance and trespass when fumes from the sewage treatment plant infiltrated Brown’s property.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A plaintiff must demonstrate that a waste disposal facility was negligent in order to recover for nuisance.

    Facts.

    Brown lived next to the County Commissioners of Scotio County (County), a sewage treatment plant. Fumes from the plant infiltrated Brown’s property, and a prospective buyer withdrew when she learned of the fumes from the plant. Brown filed suit against the county claiming nuisance and trespass. The Brown’s presented evidence that the plant was in poor condition and the trial court granted summary judgment to the County. Brown appealed.

    Issue.

    Whether a plaintiff must demonstrate that a waste disposal facility was negligent in order to recover for nuisance?

    Held.

    Yes. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed in part and reversed in part. The county was proper to grant summary judgment on the absolute private nuisance, absolute public nuisance, and trespass claims. Brown did prove a qualified public nuisance and a qualified private nuisance, however, because a prospective buyer did not buy the Brown’s house due to the odors, and could not use part of the property due to the odors.

    Discussion.

    A plaintiff must demonstrate that a waste disposal facility was negligent in order to recover for nuisance. The plaintiff can recover for public nuisance with proof that he is harmed in a way different from the rest of the public. The plaintiff can recover for private nuisance with proof of the hindrance of the private use and enjoyment of his land.


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