Law School Case Brief
Hedrick v. Tubbs - 120 Ind. App. 326, 92 N.E.2d 561 (1950)
Smoke, noise and bad odors, even when not injurious to health, may render a dwelling so uncomfortable as to drive from it any one not compelled, by poverty, to remain. Unpleasant odors, from the very constitution of human nature, render people uncomfortable, and, when continued or repeated, make life uncomfortable. To live comfortably is the chief and most reasonable object of men in acquiring property, as the means of attaining it; and any interference with neighbors in the comfortable enjoyment of life is a wrong which the law will redress. The only question is, what amounts to that discomfort from which the law will protect? The discomforts must be physical -- not such as depend upon taste or imagination. But whatever is offensive physically, to the senses, and by such offensiveness makes life uncomfortable, is a nuisance. But a nuisance which operates to destroy health or to diminish seriously the comfortable enjoyment of a dwelling house is in its nature and consequences productive of irreparable mischief for which the law can furnish no adequate remedy.
Plaintiffs owned a house and lot on the south side of a street while defendant neighbors owned the vacant lot immediately across the street on the north side. This vacant lot was located immediately behind the neighbors' own dwelling house. Plaintiffs brought a complaint, alleging, among other things, that on certain specific dates defendants deposited rotten apples and garbage on the untravelled portion of the street immediately in front of plaintiffs' house; that for approximately three years defendants have on occasions used the lot for depositing garbage, rubbish, ashes, brush, trash and filth, thereby creating a nuisance in that from the decomposed and decayed vegetable and animal matter, noxious vapors and disagreeable and unhealthy odors are generated, essentially interfering with plaintiffs' enjoyment of their property; that on occasions for three years defendants have built trash fires, in which they burned chicken feathers, old rags, rubber, and garbage; that the smoke, dirt, gases, vapors, and noxious odors have settled upon plaintiffs' premises and crept into their dwelling and upon their curtains, clothing, rugs, and furniture, damaging the same and causing discomfort and annoyance to plaintiffs, as well as endangering plaintiffs' health. The circuit court entered an injunction preventing defendants from piling or causing to be piled any trash, rubbish, ashes, brush, garbage or filth on the travelled or untravelled portion of the street. They were further enjoined from building or causing to be built any fires on that street. Defendants appealed.
Was the trial court correct when it granted injunctive relief to plaintiffs to enjoin the nuisances created by defendants on their own property?
The court affirmed the judgment from the trial court. From the evidence, the trial court might properly have held that plaintiffs had no adequate legal remedy. The evidence, together with the reasonable inferences that may have been drawn therefrom, disclosed reasonable grounds for apprehending a repetition of the acts complained of and that they were likely to have been repeated. While every man has a right to the free enjoyment and use of his own property, his neighbors have the same rights and privileges and he must so use his property as not to unreasonably hurt or hinder his neighbors' rights to the use and enjoyment of their property.
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