Canadian Court Rules That Towering Pile Of Manure Is A Nuisance

manure-pileThere is an interesting case out of Canada where a relationship between neighbors literally turned into a pile of . . .  well . . . litigation.  When David Gallant bought his property from Lee and Shirley Murray, he was not aware that they had a cattle farm next door but still maintained a good relationship. However, soon the relationship soured and a pile of manure appeared along their property line — even spilling into their yard.  With the addition of other debris tossed on their land and as many as 50 stray cows, the Gallants sued and have now won before the Court of Queen’s Bench in a nuisance action.

The pile of manure that appears in 2013 was “fresh” and resulted in the Gallants stopping their use of their garage and otherwise gagging every time that they went outside.

There is a division among the states on how to handle claims based on aesthetics.  As recognized by the Vermont Supreme Court, some states allow for aesthetic claims when combined with traditional nuisance elements while a few allow for such claims to be made with proper showings of injury.  Most states simply bar such claims.  There are cases involving “spite fences” which have been successful where there is a something of “malice” and no other cognizable purpose behind the structure or addition.  Vermont itself recognized in Coty v. Ramsey Assocs., Inc.  “the great majority of jurisdictions have held that where a defendant has acted solely out of malice or spite, such conduct is indefensible on social utility grounds, and nuisance liability attaches.” 149 Vt. at 458, 546 A.2d at 196.  That is clearly not the case here.

Giant piles of manure are a bit more than simply aesthetics.    Judge George Rideout found “the manure was placed where it was for only one purpose, to make Mr. and Mrs. Gallant’s lives miserable . . . I have little doubt these activities were initiated by the Murrays and designed to inflict fear, nuisance and harassment against the Gallants.”

A pile of manure must qualify as the ultimate spite act.  There is an analogy in the case of Spur Industries, Inc. v. Del E. Webb Dev. Co., where Del Webb built a housing development next to one of the largest feed lots.  Owned by Spur Industries in a long-standing cattle area of Arizona, the lot obviously produced odors and other unpleasant byproducts.   Del Webb sued the lot as a public nuisance.  The court had to conclude that the long-standing business did meet the definition of a nuisance.  Yet, the Court noted that “in addition to protecting the public interest, however, courts of equity are concerned with protecting the operator of a lawfully, albeit noxious, business from the result of a knowing and willful encroachment by others near his business.”  The Court noted that it did “not equitably or legally follow … that Webb, being entitled to the injunction, is then free of any liability to Spur if Webb has in fact been the cause of the damage Spur has sustained.” Thus, “it does not seem harsh to require a developer, who has taken advantage of the lesser land values in a rural area as well as the availability of large tracts of land on which to build and develop … to indemnify those who are forced to leave as a result.”  As a result, the lot was forced to move but Del Webb would have to indemnify Spur Industries for the damages sustained in relocating the feedlot.

In this case, it was easier to just move the manure.

Kudos: Professor Roger E. Schechter

 

22 thoughts on “Canadian Court Rules That Towering Pile Of Manure Is A Nuisance

  1. http://www.justfactsdaily.com/myths-about-school-choice-and-betsy-devos/

    Speaking of Manure this resource lays out the comments of Maggie The Assassin Hassen versus reality on the question of De Vos Nomination and the actual state of schools and education under the Department of Education. Lots of other topics covered and the winners are not always the extreme left or the extreme right wing of the left but are always in line with the Constitution and not Marx, Lenin, Carville and Soros.

    • Canada knows crap when it sees it. Well, partially true; there are lots of clueless Canadians, just like this past election proved there are lots-too many-of clueless Americans. Throughout America and Canada there is the counterbalance to this evolutionary backsliding, people growing tails, etc. A judge is offsetting DDT in Washington and his mutts. This went on with Jefferson. No country elects as king-like a leader as does the US. Add to this revered post the world’s most prolific liar and megalomaniac and we’re in for a show.

  2. And I also very sincerely doubt that the neighbors had no idea that this guy raised cattle. Unless he started with 2 and then ended up with 200. Did you see the size of that pile of manure? You wouldn’t notice that many animals next door when you bought the house?

    That said, this is more than aesthetics. This stupid war has made their house unlivable and is a health hazard. I sincerely hope they don’t use a well, because they will get really sick as soon as that leaches into the water table.

  3. A proper compost pile should not smell strongly, because it has the correct ratio of brown to green matter. You can compost cattle manure properly and it will just smell Earthy. You can even spread it out to dry and then let it rot well, and it will smell like that manure compost you can get at the big box stores.

    But a massive pile of wet feedlot cow manure can smell so badly that your eyes sting and you experience respiratory distress, and your house will be full of flies every time you open the door.

    Traveling through concentrated feed lot territory on my way to visit a family friend’s organic dairy, there were dust storms coming off the piles of manure that the tractors scooped up that would lend a brown haze to everything. It smelled bad inside grocery stores. I keep a small herd of horses, including drafts, and their corral doesn’t smell nor are there significant flies because their space is maintained. Even the manure cart itself doesn’t smell horrible, not like picking up a predator’s leavings like dogs. That’s because the horse manure is dry and in small doses. But cow patties are wet and splatter. Get a house high pile of fresh, wet manure and it rots. And THAT is a smell you will never, ever forget. Since it is not mixed with dry woody matter, you get anaerobic bacteria, similar to that hot slime you get when you dump grass clippings into your trash can, except add E coli, methane, and other smells to it. A pile of cow manure, all by itself, rotting, would make the inside of your house unlivable. The clothes tucked away in boxes in your closet will smell like rotting manure. The smell just permeates absolutely everything.

    On that note, the organic dairy farm of our friend’s is like a green, bucolic, paradise compared to intensive, smelly, dirty feed lots. There are rolling green hills planted with the exact perfect blend of forage for optimal Omega 3/6 ratios, very low density, the girls stroll in all on their own at milking time and wait patiently in line to take a ride on a hydraulic, scrupulously clean carousel during which they munch their vitamin goodie bucket whilst being milked, and then they saunter back to spend the rest of their day eating tender grass and gossiping. No comparison at all. Guys, “Organic milk” that is cheap is just feed lot intensive farming where the cows stand in manure all day that they scrape clean at intervals with tractors while getting fed organic grain feed exclusively. There is no grass at these dairies at all. Get grass fed organic milk and pay the extra couple of bucks for milk produced in vastly improved living conditions, so much better for our environment and all the animals involved.

  4. This is a strange story. Evidently, they lived side by side for 12 years without incident when one set of neighbors began unaccountably harassing the other. I’m wondering if the cattleman has been suffering from senescence or if there was some other tiff between them the newspapers do not report (e.g the Gallant’s revealing private information about the Murray’s in some setting like the local pub).

  5. I worked a surveillance in Burlington, WI. which has a Nestle’s Chocolate factory. Wonderful! And I was working another case in a rural area right near a sauerkraut factory. No slam on kraut, I love it. But the smell in processing it is horrible.

    The environmental cabal obsesses on global warming at the expense of important issues like noise and odor pollution.

  6. I spent a summer working around cow manure and owned horses for years. You really get used to the smell. Having said that, I agree with the judge. I would have never put a wire fence between the properties.

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