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Sturges v. Bridgman

Citation. 11 Ch. D. 852 (C.A. 1879)

Brief Fact Summary.

A physician converted his garden into a consulting room, and was bothered by his neighbors equipment.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

A plaintiff still has a cause of action for a nuisance if it arises after their property is validly altered.

Facts.

The plaintiff is a doctor, who had a garden behind his house that shared a wall with the defendant confectioner next door.  The plaintiff decided to turn his garden into a consulting room for additional convenience, but once he had done so, he was frequently bothered by the defendant’s machinery.  The defendant had operated his machinery for many years prior.

Issue.

Does the plaintiff have a cause of action for a nuisance that only arose when he changed the use of his property?

Held.

Yes, plaintiff still has a cause of action for the nuisance.

Discussion.

The court held for the plaintiff.  They found that the defendant’s use of the machinery could still be a nuisance even though it had been in continuous operation for many years.  The plaintiff was entitled to free use of his property, and if he changed that use (within the legal bounds) so that something previously acceptable now became a nuisance, he still has a cause of action.  They concluded that it would be unreasonable to allow a nuisance to essentially be grandfathered in, because it would effectively permit them to limit the use of neighboring properties.


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