Laws310 Week 7 - Simulation Environmental Nuisance Lawsuit (*****739 Words + APA Format + Factual Summary + Issue + Legal Concept + Conclusion + References *****)
Simulation: Environmental Nuisance Lawsuit
In this exercise, you will be observing a court hearing of a private nuisance suit. The background information below is provided to familiarize you with some of the major legal issues presented. After you read the information below and observe the simulation, you should complete the assignment. You will answer the question posed and post your answer to the Dropbox under
Week 7: Simulation.
Long before there was environmental legislation, there were courts grappling with the problems of pollution. Before there was an Environmental Protection Agency, those who allowed something noxious to escape their control and invade the property of others could be held accountable for their actions through private litigation. The doctrines of nuisance and trespass revolve around the interference with a property owners (or the publics) right and ability to enjoy his or her (or public) land.
As Supreme Court Justice George Sutherland said in a case in 1926, "Nuisance may be merely a right thing in a wrong place like a pig in the parlor instead of the barnyard." Nuisance actions may be private or public. A private nuisance is a substantial and unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of an interest in property. A public nuisance is an act that causes inconvenience or damage to public health or order or that obstructs public rights. If a harmful substance is allowed, intentionally or carelessly, to invade the property of another, whether by land, air, or water, there may be a trespass. If so, the defendant is held responsible for damages.
Even though there is a vast body of federal law in effect today, common law actions can still be brought. A court or local pollution control board will generally consider the following facts in a nuisance case: (1) character and degree of injury, (2) social or economic value of the source, (3) suitability or unsuitability of the source (including the question of priority of location), (4) technical practicability and economic reasonableness of control, and (5) subsequent compliance (if any).
Various enforcement mechanisms exist. Civil and criminal penalties for both the firm and its managers are possible, although usually the initial step is a warning and the development of a compliance schedule. In severe cases, entire operations may be shut down.
This is a lawsuit brought by a group of landowners who live near a dairy farm. The issue is whether the aromatic nature of the farm's creation and processing of manure is a public nuisance. Please review the simulation. Using knowledge gained from the interactive and the course material, write a paper evaluating whether or not you agree or disagree with the judge's ruling and why. Submit your answer to the Dropbox under Week 7: Simulation.
The components of your analysis must include the following.
Factual Summary: Provide a succinct and accurate description of the scenario at hand. Summarize the scenario to include all relevant facts.
Issue: Restate or summarize the question. What is the legal question you are going to answer?
Legal Concept(s): Identify and discuss one or more legal concepts from the course material when exploring the problem at hand. Define the legal concept(s) and explain how the concept(s) relate(s) to the given scenario.
Analysis/Conclusion: Analyze the factual scenario in relation to the legal concept in order to reach a well-reasoned conclusion. Be sure to apply the legal concept correctly toward solving the legal issue.
Paper should be double spaced in 12-point font and approximately 500-750 words. At least twosources must be correctly cited using APA citations, including both in-text parenthetical citations and an end-of-text list of references.
Transcript Environmental Nuisance Lawsuit
Judge: Good morning, counsel.
Plaintiff Counsel: Good morning, Your Honor. Kelly Greene for the Plaintiff. Defense Counsel: A good day to you too, Your Honor. Pat Calloway for the
Defense. Judge: I have had a chance to look over your documents. It appears that this is a citizens suit against the liquid manure spreading operation of a large dairy farm. Plaintiff
Counsel: Yes, I represent the Neighbors Invested in a Clean Environment, known as NICE, a group of land owners who live near Northfield Farms, a dairy farm in the town of Bountiful.
Defense Counsel: Your Honor, I represent the defendant, Chris Lively, owner of the farm. Northfield Farm is one of the largest dairy farms in the state and has forty-three employees. The farm is composed of 1,500 crop acres and has an animal population of 1,400 head of mature cows with over 1,500 head of young cattle, heifers and calves, making a total of 2,900 animals.
Judge: I see. Who will be testifying today? Defense Counsel: Chris Lively will appear for the defense.
Plaintiff Counsel: Sam Anxious will be testifying on behalf of NICE.
Judge: Since this is a civil lawsuit brought by NICE, they will have the burden of proof and will present evidence first. This will be a bench trial, according to state law, without a jury present. Essentially, I will decide if the common law offenses of nuisance and/or trespass have been raised by the facts presented. Is the plaintiff ready?
Plaintiff Counsel: Yes, we are ready to call Sam Anxious to the stand. Judge: I remind the witness that you are still under oath from an earlier appearance before this court on a motion to dismiss brought by the defendant, which I denied.
Sam Anxious: I understand. Judge: Counsel, you may proceed.
Plaintiff Counsel: Thank you, Your Honor. For the record, why has NICE brought this common law lawsuit against a dairy farm?
Sam Anxious: I'm glad you asked that question. Unlike old-fashioned dairy farms, Northfield's operations do not involve setting the cows out to pasture. Instead, the cows remain in their barns except when they are milked, which happens three times a day.
Plaintiff Counsel: So, isnt the manure inside the barns?
Sam Anxious: Well, old-fashioned dairy farms spread the accumulated manure with a manure spreader. But Northfield generates so much manure, its handled through the use of storage lagoons and liquid cow manure.
Plaintiff Counsel: How much manure are we talking about?
Sam Anxious: Well, it's a lot. There are six storage lagoons on the main farm property. Just one four-acre manure storage lagoon has a capacity of approximately six-to-eight million gallons of liquid cow manure. Plaintiff
Counsel: Wow! That's a lot of ...
Judge: Watch your language please.
Plaintiff Counsel: Oh, sorry, Your Honor. So, do you live nearby?
Sam Anxious: I live on the next parcel and, I can tell you, the smell is horrific.
Plaintiff Counsel: Doesn't the manure just sit in these lagoons?
Sam Anxious: I wish. They use the stuff as fertilizer for the land. A series of pipes connects a center pivot to the storage lagoons, and the liquid manure is spread out over the fields that way. The pivot is self-propelled, and the manure gets sprayed somewhere between 12 and 30 feet in the air all the time.
Plaintiff Counsel: Aside from the smell, which would certainly appear to be a substantial and unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of an interest in property
Defense Counsel: Objection! Counsel is making a legal conclusion on the ultimate question of private nuisance and testifying.
Judge: Sustained. Counsel, refrain from trying to do my work for me. I will make these decisions. You may proceed.
Plaintiff Counsel: Of course. Returning our attention to your contact with the manure next door at Northfield, is there more to it than the, as you call it, horrific smell?
Sam Anxious: My property and Northfield share a boundary line with Bountiful State Park. Part of the farm has a field containing a slew and swale which tends to collect liquid manure spread by Northfield's tankers and conveys it through a pipe in a stonewall and through the stonewall itself into a ditch which runs for some length on the Northfield property before it reaches the boundary of the state park.
Plaintiff Counsel: What is slew and swale?
Sam Anxious: Sorry, that is a depression that contains marshy land.
Plaintiff Counsel: I see, please continue.
Sam Anxious: Well, I saw the manure collecting in the slew and swale and flowing into the ditch which in turn flowed off of the Northfield property into Bountiful State Park property, and, in turn, joined a stream which ultimately flowed into the Nishna River.
Plaintiff Counsel: The manure went into the public waterway?
Sam Anxious: Yes, so all of us in NICE worry about our health since this harmful substance is entering the river where we draw water for personal use. Also, the pipe running along their property line has leaked into my land. They fixed the pipe, but I had to go hire someone to clean up the stuff at personal expense of $500.
Plaintiff Counsel: Does this happen a lot?
Sam Anxious: Anytime we have a big rain, I see the manure flow into the river. And those irrigation pivot circles keep going, even in the rain, when the ground is soaked and cant absorb it! Also, whenever it rains, let's face it, the manure is just flowing across my property line. When that happens, I admit it probably mostly seeps into the ground, but why do I have to have this stuff on my property? Isn't that trespassing?
Plaintiff Counsel: Let's leave that for the judge to decide. I have no further questions. Judge: Defense? Any cross examination?
Defense Counsel: Just a few questions. How long have you lived near the farm?
Sam Anxious: About 5 years. Defense Counsel: Was the farm in operation when you arrived?
Sam Anxious: Yes.
Defense Counsel: So you were aware they had cattle and cows when you decided to move in? Sam Anxious: Yes, I was.
Defense Counsel: No further questions.
Judge: Unless there are any questions on re-direct, the witness is excused.
Plaintiff Counsel: Nothing further, Your Honor.
Judge: Does the plaintiff have further evidence?
Plaintiff Counsel: We would just like to introduce these maps of the property lines, photographs of the spillage of manure on the Anxious property, and the bill for $500 to clean it up. Judge: Any objections?
Plaintiff Counsel: No, Your Honor, we've seen them.
Judge: The documents are accepted into evidence. Is the defense ready to proceed?
Defense Counsel: Yes, the defense would like to call Chris Lively to the stand.
Judge: Thank you for your testimony today. As with the other witness, you remain under oath from prior testimony this morning.
Chris Lively: I understand.
Defense Counsel: Do you own Northfield Farm?
Chris Lively: Yes, I do.
Defense Counsel: Tell us about the farm.
Chris Lively: Thank you so much for this chance to speak. Let me just say that it is crazy to think someone moves next to a dairy farm as big as mine is not going to smell manure. The manure is natural and, along with straw, is a wonderful aroma. Part of the reason I even got into raising cows and cattle...
Judge: Please stick with the facts.
Chris Lively: Oh, sure. Anyway, I make every effort to keep the slew and swale from anyone's property. I mean, if we get a very heavy rain, what am I supposed to do? Even though it was cleaned up, the manure that leaked on the Anxious property could very easily have fertilized that land. If they weren't so sensitive, since they are really city folk at heart, these NICE people would take advantage rather than complain. I should charge him for the fertilizer. Defense Counsel: Have your neighbors complained about being sick from using the river water?
Chris Lively: Not at all. I use the same water, with no problems. As for the park, nobody really goes there anyway.
Sam Anxious: Yeah, because it stinks to high heaven!
Judge: You had your chance to testify and you better not interrupt again or I'll have you held in contempt.
Sam Anxious: Sorry, Your Honor.
Defense Counsel: So, would it be safe to say that a person living next to a dairy farm could reasonably expect to smell manure, and occasionally have some runoff on their property in heavy rains...
Judge: Don't answer that question. The reasonableness of the interference with the property owners rights by the defendant's actions is a legal question within my discretion alone. Please proceed.
Defense Counsel: I have nothing further, your honor.
Judge: Any cross examination?
Plaintiff Counsel: No, Your Honor.
Judge: Witness is dismissed. Does the defense have anything further?
Defense Counsel: No, Your Honor. The defense rests.
Judge: Are counsel ready for arguments?
Defense Counsel and Plaintiff Counsel: Ready, Your Honor.
Judge: Plaintiff will begin.
Plaintiff Counsel: Thank you, Your Honor. NICE submits under common law that it has established that the defendant, Northfield Farm, has created a public nuisance that is unreasonable when it allows the manure to flow into the river used by its neighbors. In addition, Sam Anxious has suffered a private nuisance, because the smell has significantly reduced his pleasure and enjoyment of his property. Also, when the pipe broke, and when the manure spills directly on his property during heavy rains, he has suffered a trespass to his property. We ask the court to fine the property owner $1000 per day until he eliminates the smell and the overflow.
Defense Counsel: Your Honor. The key word here is reasonable. It is manifestly unreasonable to think that if you live near a dairy farm of this size you will not smell manure. Also, my client has done everything reasonable to keep the manure on his property. He exercised due care using pipes to channel some of the manure using pipes in a stone wall. My client also cannot be expected to plan for extreme rainstorms. The cost would be amazing. Therefore, we object to any fines, especially the ridiculous amount of $1000 per day. As for the river, we also feel that some runoff is to be expected with a large agricultural enterprise. It is unreasonable to think otherwise. No one has been sick, so any damages that may have been caused from drinking the water is speculative. Thank you.
Judge: I have reviewed the evidence and I am a prepared to make my ruling. I agree with the defendant that a certain amount of aroma is unavoidable, and adjoining property owners must accept that as part of living in the country. Sam Anxious knew, or reasonably should have known, that a dairy farm would be an aromatic neighbor. I also find that Northfield has taken reasonable precautions to contain the manure, with some exceptions. I find that they need to do a better job during the rainstorms to prevent runoff. I direct that they take measures, such as shutting off the manure dispersal process, during such rainfall. If they do not do so, I will fine them $1000 a day. I also find they have created a public nuisance by allowing runoff into the river which could constitute pollution and renders the adjoining park unusable by the public. I hereby order them to demonstrate in 90 days that they have developed a means to prevent these unreasonable interferences with enjoyment of public and private property. I also find that they have committed a trespass against the Anxious property and direct that Lively reimburse the owner $500 within 30 days. So ordered. Case is adjourned.
Laws 310 Week 7
Simulation Environmental Nuisance Lawsuit
Law310 Law/310 Law 310 Week 7 Simulation Environmental Nuisance Lawsuit
Laws310 Week 7 Simulation Environmental Nuisance Lawsuit
Laws/310 Week 7 Simulation Environmental Nuisance Lawsuit
Laws 310 Week 7 Simulation Environmental Nuisance Lawsuit