Plain English Jury Instructions
Section 12. Nuisance
Table of Contents
The claim made by [name of plaintiff] falls under the law of nuisance. To prove this claim, [name of plaintiff] must prove [Name of defendants]:
1. Engaged in an activity;
2. that unreasonably interfered with [name of plaintiff]’s use and enjoyment of [his/her] home and
3. This interference with enjoyment was so serious that [name of plaintiffs] should not be expected to bear it without compensation.
Coty v. Ramsey Assocs., 149
[Name of Defendant] is a business. The nuisance that has been alleged by [name of plaintiff] is part of its normal operations. You may find that these operations created a nuisance if [name of plaintiff] proves:
1. [Name of defendants] engaged in an activity;
2. That unreasonably interfered with [name of plaintiff]’s use and enjoyment of [his/her] home by causing something to come onto the Plaintiff’s home and grounds; and
3. This interference with enjoyment so serious that [name of plaintiffs] should not be expected to bear it without compensation.
Trickett v. Ochs, 2003 VT 91, ¶ 37; Wild v. Brooks, 2004 VT 74, ¶ 17. In Trickett, the Court wrote:
whether a land use of a lawful business constitutes a nuisance, courts must
consider both the extent of the interference, see Coty v. Ramsey Assocs., 149 Vt. 451, 457, 546 A.2d 196, 201 (1988)
(to be considered nuisance, interference with use and enjoyment of another’s
property must be both objectively unreasonable and substantial), and the
reasonableness of the challenged activities in light of the particular
circumstances of the case. See Schlotfelt
v. Vinton Farmers’ Supply Co., 252 Iowa 1102, 109 N.W.2d 695, 698 (Iowa
1961) (fair test as to whether operation of lawful business constitutes
nuisance is reasonableness of conducting business in manner, at place, and
under circumstances in question); Winget,
130 S.E.2d at 367 (whether particular use of property is reasonable or
constitutes nuisance depends on facts of each case and numerous factors); see
also 2 D. Dobbs, The Law of Torts
§ 465, at 1327 (2001) (“The defendant’s use of his land may be broadly consistent
with the uses to which the neighborhood is dedicated, yet because of the
magnitude, frequency, or duration, the use may constitute a nuisance.”).
Irrespective of the utility of the land use, the question may come down to
whether the activities causing the harm are reasonably avoidable.
To find whether an activity interferes unreasonably with a neighbor, you must look to:
· the usefulness of [describe the alleged activity];
· the intensity of this activity;
· how often [describe the alleged activity] was done; and
· how long [describe the alleged activity] was done each time.
What a neighbor can reasonably be expected to bear may depend on the character of the neighborhood, for example whether the neighborhood is industrial, residential or agricultural. To be an “interference with use and enjoyment” that interference must be one which a normal person would find objectionable. You should consider what a reasonable person would expect regarding his or her home in this type of neighborhood. You may also consider what practical options were available to the Defendant to make the activity less objectionable to the neighbor.
This instruction is a generalized
introduction to concept of unreasonable activity. The specific facts of any case will almost
always require an additional paragraph concerning the nature of the alleged
activity. See, e.g.,
Ordinary wood smoke, in ordinary amounts, is not a nuisance. If, however, you conclude that [name of defendant]’s house was emitting particularly large quantities of smoke, or smoke which had an odor both unusual and unpleasant, then you may consider whether it created the three requirements for nuisance just described.