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Bamford v. Turnley

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    Bloomberg Law

    Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiff brought an action for nuisance, alleging that brick kilns operated by his neighbor caused him injury in the form of fetid odor and an unhealthy environment. The trial court entered judgment for Defendant. Plaintiff appealed.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Even if activity performed on one’s land is necessary or for the public benefit, one cannot infringe on the rights of another individual. If one does, they must compensate the other for damages.

    Facts. Plaintiff complained of the smoke and smell arising from the burning of bricks by the Defendant on his land not far from the Plaintiff’s house. Evidence submitted at trial indicated that the kiln operation was a temporary one, engaged in for private purposes and that Defendant operated the kilns as far as possible from his neighbor’s property. At trial, the judge concluded that, as the location of the kilns was sufficiently removed from Plaintiff’s property and that the operation was a reasonable use upon private land. He found for Defendant, and Plaintiff sought review.

    Issue. Is it a defense to say that Plaintiff was using land in a reasonable manner?

    Held. The court reversed the lower court’s ruling, stating that a Defendant’s use of land, even if private and for beneficial use, is not justification for the infringement on his neighbor’s rights.

    Discussion. Bamford is an early case raising some of the issues typically surrounding private nuisance claims. Nuisance arises from an allegation of injury to person or property. The injury need not be physical; it can include injury to rights, property enjoyment, or “quality of life” issues. The law of nuisance recognizes two distinct categories of claims: private nuisance and public nuisance. Bamford, as noted, is a case of the former, when a nuisance interferes with another’s current possessory or beneficial interest in the use or quiet enjoyment of land. As the court stated, “[t]hose acts necessary for the common and ordinary use and occupation of land and houses may be done, if conveniently done, without subjecting those who do them to an action.” The court reasons, however, that part of the expense of private land use is the compensation to others who may be damaged in the process, and the actor would then be liable for compensation.


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