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Advanced Torts
Southern Illinois University School of Law
Mekel, Michele L.

Michelle Mekel
Spring 2009
                     I.            Intro & Nuisance
                                                          I.            Torts encompasses a broad group of legal wrongs for which there is legal redress in the civil context.
                                                        II.            Remedies:
A.       Legal and/or equitable
o    Damages ($$$) and/or injunctions
                                                        3.            Terminology:
·         “Torts” derived from Latin word tortus, meaning twisted.
·         “Torts” = French word for “wrong”
·         Technical meaning in law = a civil legal wrong that results in harm and for which there is liability
                                                        4.            Nexus:
·         Civil law – contracts, property, Constitutional law, etc.
o    Examples…
·         Criminal law
o    Examples…
                                                        5.            Types:
·         Intentional = liability where these is the legal intent to engage in the wrongful conduct
·         Negligence = liability where there is unreasonably risky behavior in the circumstances
·         Strict Liability = liability without proof of fault where there is harm
                                                        6.            Sources:
·         Predominantly a creature of common law, but can also arise from, or be limited by, statute. May even, in some instances, arise from Constitution.
·         Examples…
      2 types: Private & Public
                                     B.      PRIVATE NUISANCE
                                                       1.            General Principles of Liability
Private Nuisance – one that unreasonably interferes with the use OR enjoyment of nearby real property. (must be real estate) Restatement (Second) § 821 D
                                                                                            1.            Ownership
·         Plaintiff need not own the land,
·         just needs to be the occupant
·         P need only hold some right to use such property that is adversely impacted by D’s activities
·         But must have some current beneficial interest in property to have standing.
§ Renter
§ Corporation
                                                                                            2.            Possession
·         Nuisance does NOT dispossess the plaintiff of current possessory interest
                                                                                            c.            Distinguish: Trespass vs. Nuisance
Degree of Interference
Minor interference
   ·            noise,
   ·            lights,
   ·            odor,
   ·            Vibration
Major or permanent interference
Short Term
Long Term
                                                                                              ·            Distinguish: Public vs. Private Nuisance
Small group or 1 person
Big group or community at large
“Catch-all criminal offense”
1.            P is small group or 1 person
2.            P has possessory or beneficial interest
3.            Activity or condition that “Substantially and Unreasonably” interferes with
4.            P’s use or quiet enjoyment of land.
Compensatory Damages
                                                                         a.            Standard
1.       General rule of property – you have right to control it, but not an exclusive right.
2.       Court has to determine “reasonable interference.”
3.       Unreasonable Interference if:
a.       Activity or condition is that
b.        SUBSTANTIALLY and UNREASONABLY interferes with another’s
c.        current possessory or beneficial interest in the
d.       use or quiet enjoyment of land.
(e.g. Noise, lights, odor, or vibration.)
                                                                                            d.            Balancing Test:
                                                                                                                                  ·            Clinic & Hospital v. McConnel- p.689 (1951)
Facts: Hospital sues music store that played music loud at all hours that could be heard in hospital. Some patients complained about music, needed to be administered medication to address effects, some checked out early.
Rule: “A business which is lawful in itself may become a nuisance where it is not operated in a fair and reasonable way with regard to the rights of others in the use and enjoyment of their property.
                                                                                                                                                    ·            In every case, it’s a question of “reasonableness.”
                                                                                                                                                    ·            No exact formula for reasonableness
                                                                                                                                                    ·            Case specific
                                                                                                                                                    ·            Both Objective and Subjective
                                                                                                                                                    ·            Consider factors
1.       Locality and the character of the surroundings
2.       The nature, utility and social value of the use,
3.       The extent and nature of the harm involved
4.       The nature, utility and social value of the use or enjoyment invaded.
                                                                                                                                                    ·            Court may grant relief if:
1.       Annoyances and discomforts exceed what might be “reasonably expected in the community and district”
2.       And cause unnecessary harm to others.
                                                                                                                                  ·            Winget v. Winn-Dixie Stores
                                                                                                                                                    ·            P’s complaints of customer noise and annoyances from garbage pickup and street sweepers at nearby grocery store did not form basis of finding of nuisance;
                                                                                                                                                    ·            However, bright lights and garbage odor were not normal and necessary incidents of business operation.
                                                                                                                                                    ·            These activities were stopped, so no need for injunction.

                     b.            Remedies
                                                                          a.            Temporary vs. Permanent Nuisances
                                                                                            a.            Permanent Nuisances
When they are awarded they impose a servitude on P’s land.
Such damages are calculated based on the diminution of value theory.
                                                                                            b.            Temporary Nuisances
Damages historically focused on diminution of rental values.
Special damages also available.
Boomer v. Atlantic Cement Co.
Neighboring landowners sued large cement co. alleging injury to property from dirt, s moke, and vibration. Trial ct allowed temporary damages, but denied injunction.
REVERSED & REMANDED: to grant injunction which shall be vacated upon payment by D of permanent damages to plaintiffs.   (aka “Conditional” or “Dissolvable” injunction)
DISSENT: In permitting an injunction to become inoperative upon the payment of permanent damages, the majority is licensing a continuing wrong by paying a fee. Once fee paid, incentive to abate harm is eliminated.
                                                                                              ·            Dissent sees harm not only to P, but to General Public.
                                                                                              ·            Majority does not want to use private lawsuit as a mechanism to achieve direct public objectives.
                                                                                              ·            Economics: Majority thinks cement plant value is much greater than $185,000 total permanent damages to the Ps.
Damages Formula (must include the following)
                                                                                                                ·            Past Damages + interest
                                                                                                                ·            Present Damages 
                                                                                                                ·            Future Damages – Reduced to present value
·         Consider future value of money
·         Inflationary component
·         Speculation about value of property in future
·         Duration (how long do we have to compensate them for?)
                                                                         b.            Injunctions
1.       Equitable decrees, thus discretionary.
2.       Courts are free to shape their orders as required by the circumstances
3.       Balance of equities sometimes move courts to enter partial injunctions (aka experimental injunctions) or conditional injunctions.
a.       Disproportionate economic consequences
b.       Public interest
c.        Other factors
Spur Industries, Inc. v. Del E. Webb Dev. Co. – p. 702