The infringement upon another’s free use and enjoyment of his/her property can give rise to civil liability for nuisance. California law has codified this fundamental principal of property rights in California Civil Code § 3514 which states “One must so use his own rights as not to infringe upon the rights of another.” Accordingly, one cannot use his/her property in such a way that it infringes upon or damages the property or right to enjoy the property of another. Our Nuisance Attorneys in Los Angeles have prosecuted nuisance claims and are experienced in private nuisance matters.
The law distinguishes between two types of nuisances, (1) permanent and (2) continuing. Permanent nuisances are characterized as a nuisance which causes permanent injury. A continuing nuisance is a nuisance that can be discontinued or abated at any time.
Civil Code § 3479 codifies what constitutes a nuisance as “Anything which is injurious to health, including, but not limited to, the illegal sale of controlled substances, or is indecent or offensive to the senses, or an obstruction to the free use of property, so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property, or unlawfully obstructs the free passage or use, in the customary manner, of any navigable lake, or river, bay, stream, canal, or basin, or any public park, square, street, or highway, is a nuisance.” Thus, the obstruction to the free use of property so as to interfere with its comfortable enjoyment can be anything from illegal activity such as drug dealing or gang activity or offensive odors and pollution or noise.
The law generally allows for (1) loss of value; (2) discomfort, annoyance and distress; and (3) exemplary damages where proven in a private nuisance action.
Loss of value – Loss of use is a recognized measure of continuing nuisance damages. See Shamsian v. Atlantic Richfield Co., (2003) 107 Cal.App.4th 967, 982; see also Cal. Civ. Code § 3479. The measure of damages for the loss of use is the difference in the rental or use value of the premises before and after the injury caused by the nuisance. See Qualls v. Smyth, (1957) 148 Cal. App. 2d 635, 638; see also Ingram v. City of Gridley, (1950) 100 Cal. App. 2d 815, 821 (“Loss of rental value is not a part of the damages recoverable where there was permanent injury to the land itself. But where the property is not directly affected or depreciated by physical injury, but the value of its use only is affected, it has been held that the measure of damages is the depreciation in the rental value of the property.”)
Annoyance & Discomfort – Damages for discomfort, annoyance, and mental distress suffered by the plaintiff as the result of a nuisance are recoverable, but not merely as an alternative to or to the exclusion of damages for depreciation of the plaintiff’s property in rental value. See Spaulding v. Cameron, (1954) 127 Cal. App. 2d 698, 706. Annoyance and discomfort damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for the loss of his or her peaceful occupation and enjoyment of the property. The annoyance and discomfort for which damages may be recovered on nuisance claims generally refers to distress arising out of physical discomfort, irritation, or inconvenience caused by odors, pests, noise, and the like. See Kelly v. CB&I Constructors, Inc., (2009) 179 Cal. App. 4th 442, 456-57.
Exemplary Damages – When the facts warrant it, exemplary or punitive damages may be recovered in a nuisance case. See Hassoldt v. Patrick Media Group, Inc., (2000) 84 Cal. App. 4th 153, 168.
Injunctive relief is also an available remedy when bringing a nuisance action. Claimants seek injunctive relief in order to abate the nuisance or deal with the conduct, action or inaction giving rise to the nuisance.
Our Los Angeles Nuisance Attorneys can evaluate your claim or defense and help you determine the best plan of action to deal with your private nuisance litigation. Contact us today.