NICE vs. Northfield Farm
NICE, a group of landowners who live near Northfield Farm, brought a lawsuit against the owner of the farm for allowing the water contaminated with manure to spill to a public waterway, park, and to adjacent neighbors’ properties. The plaintiff also accused the defendant of interfering with the enjoyment of private property because of the spread of manure aroma from the defendant’s farm.
- Did the spillage of manure into a public park and waterway amount to a public nuisance?
- Did the spillage of manure into private property as well as the spread of the aroma amount to private nuisance?
A public nuisance refers to an act that results in inconvenience or damage to public health or one that interferes with public rights, for instance, right to enjoy a public property. In the case of NICE vs Northfield Farm, the spillage of runoff water contaminated with manure into Nishna River was a public nuisance because it endangered public health (Johnston, 2008). Another form of public nuisance in the case was the spillage of manure contaminated water into the park since this situation interfered with enjoyment of a public property.
A private nuisance refers to interference with a person’s right to enjoy and use his property. According to the law, those who are rightfully in possession of property have the right to enjoy and use their property without interference from other persons (Currie, 2009). Examples of private nuisance include interference with the comfort, convenience, or health of the occupants of a private property e.g. noxious gases, dust, smoke, etc. In the case of NICE vs Northfield Farm, the spillage of water contaminated with manure into the neighboring lands is a form of private nuisance.
The spillage of runoff water contaminated with manure into the public park and Nishna River was a form of public nuisance because it endangered public health and interfered with enjoyment of public property (Lumney, 2006). The spillage of runoff water containing manure into adjacent private lands amounted to private nuisance, and, therefore, the owners of these lands were entitled to damages equal to the cost of clearing the manure. However, the manure aroma that spread from Northfield Farm did not amount to private nuisance because the neighbors knew about this condition before they bought land adjacent to the farm.