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The use made of property may be unpleasant, unsightly or, to some extent, annoying and disagreeable to the occupants of neighboring property without creating a nuisance. When, however, it not only interferes materially with the physical comfort of persons in their own homes, but also causes some financial injury to the owner, it constitutes a nuisance.
The defendant manufacturer operated a factory run by steam. In order to generate the necessary steam, the factory had two coal-fired boilers. The smokestacks for the boilers were 90 feet high and were located less than one thousand feet from a residence owned by the property owner. The property owner held the property for several years before the manufacturer erected its factory. The rental value of the house was injured by the manufacturer's use of soft coal to the extent of $ 800, and the property owner incurred expenses for cleaning rugs to the extent of $ 18 more. Plaintiff property owner filed suit to restrain defendant manufacturer from operating its factory in a way that caused coal smoke, soot, and dust to intrude onto the property owner's house. The trial court enjoined the manufacturer from burning soft coal and awarded damages to the property owner. On review, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the Third Judicial Department (New York) modified the judgment by reducing the damage award.
Did the use of soft coal in a factory located in a country district suitable for country homes constitute nuisance?
The court noted that whether the use of property by one person was reasonable, with reference to the comfortable enjoyment of his own property by another, generally depended upon many and varied facts; such as location, nature of the use, character of the neighborhood, extent and frequency of the injury, the effect on the enjoyment of life, health and property and the like. In this case, the court held the manufacturer's use not only interfered materially with the physical comfort of persons in their own homes, but also caused some financial injury to the owner, and thus it constituted a nuisance. The court affirmed the judgment of the lower court.