Most homeowners, who are looking to buy a home, tend to want a home in a quiet neighborhood. They want a neighborhood where their family can throw a barbecue in the backyard and invite over some neighbors. Homeowners want a neighborhood where they won’t be woken up at 3 am by the sounds of industrial machinery running full tilt. They want a neighborhood where they can watch their children play in the front yard without the need for dust filter masks. Simple things such as this are a baseline that most homeowners can agree on.
But what can you do if an industrial company moves in next door? Can you do anything if your city approves the teardown of a residential building and allows construction of Pollute Co.’s new Obnoxious Noise, Dusty Debris, and Smelly Solvents factory to be built next to you? Is your only option to sell your home (now at a reduced price because no one wants to live there) and move far enough away?
It turns outs, Texas courts have sided with the homeowners more than a few times in these types of cases. The Texas Supreme Court recently found that the owner/operator of a natural gas pipeline use of loud compressors was sufficiently negligent to create a nuisance. Here, the homeowners had a right to “use and enjoyment” of their land, and the negligent, intentional, or strict liability violation of this right was actionable by the court.
A party ‘negligently’ creates a nuisance if they fail to use ordinary care, that is, fail to do that which a person or party of ordinary prudence would have done under the same or similar circumstances or doing that which a person or party of ordinary prudence would not have done under the same or similar circumstances. “Ordinary care” means the degree of care that would be used by a person or party of ordinary prudence under the same or similar circumstances.
Crosstex N. Texas Pipeline, L.P. v. Gardiner, 505 S.W.3d 580, 612–13 (Tex. 2016)
In the first example, the behavior of Pollute Co. would be examined through the lens of what a similar but prudent company would have done. A court would look to see if Pollute Co had been fined (once or a few times), or if other similar companies can carry on their business without intruding upon homeowner’s right to the “use and enjoyment” of their land. The jury in the Crosstex N. Texas Pipeline, L.P. v. Gardiner case ultimately decided that the nuisance caused by the constant compressor use had decreased the value of the land by over $2 million, and decided that the landowners should be compensated accordingly.
So, if you have recently found that a loud, dusty, and or smelly business has moved into your quiet neighborhood, don’t give up hope! You may have a valid claim and a way to stop that nuisance. Don’t let big industry push you around and stop you from enjoy your own home. We can help.
Navigating private nuisance claims as a homeowner or member of a neighborhood can be a nightmare. Work with a team of trial attorneys for assistance with your specific nuisance claim. Returning your property to that quiet peaceful neighborhood you had once before shouldn’t be just a dream.
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