Brief Fact Summary.
John and Anna Hughes (Hughes) sued Emerald Mines Corporation (Emerald) after an airshaft hole created by Emerald prevented the Hughes from using two wells located on their property.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
A defendant is liable for private nuisance when he intentionally interferes with the plaintiff’s private use and enjoyment of their land.
John and Anna Hughes (Hughes) owned land containing two wells. Emerald Mines Corporation dug an airshaft hole next to one of the wells and injected grout into the airshaft hole, resulting in the pollution of one well and the dissolution of the other. The Hughes sued Emerald Mines Corporation for invasion of property. The jury granted judgment to the Hughes and awarded them $32,500 in damages, Emerald Mines Corporation appealed.
Whether a defendant is liable for private nuisance when he intentionally interferes with the plaintiff’s private use and enjoyment of their land?
Yes. Affirmed in part, reversed in part.
Where conflict is irreconcilable the right to use one's own must prevail, but it can only do so without compensation where the resulting damage is not avoidable at all, or only at such expense as would be practically prohibitory.View Full Point of Law
Emerald Mines Corporation (Defendant) knew that injecting grout into the airshaft would affect John and Anna Hughes (Hughes) private use an enjoyment of the wells on their land. The Defendant also failed to show that the damage to the Hughes property was unavoidable, or that the location neighboring the wells was the only possible location to dig the airshafts. Nonetheless the award for damages was excessive because it was based on the loss of the value of the wells rather than the cost required to restore or replace the wells. The liability of the Defendant was affirmed and the amount of damages awarded to the Hughes was reversed.