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The nuisance doctrine operates as a restriction upon the right of an owner of property to make such use of it as he pleases. In legal phraseology the term "nuisance" is applied to that class of wrongs which arises from the unreasonable, unwarrantable, or unlawful use by a person of his own property, and which produces such material annoyance, inconvenience, discomfort, or hurt that the law will presume a consequent damage. It is so comprehensive that it has been applied to almost all wrongs, which have interfered with the rights of the citizen in his person, property, the enjoyment of his property, or his comfort. The term "nuisance" is incapable of an exact and exhaustive definition which will fit all cases, because the controlling facts are seldom alike, and each case stands on its own footing.
A building owner claimed that it had sustained damages as a result of the condition of a neighboring abandoned building. The building owner filed a private nuisance action against the abandoned property owner. The uncontroverted proof at trial was that the abandoned property owner's building had deteriorated, become unsightly, and been taken over by derelicts, causing a deterioration in values on the block.
Did the failure of the abandoned property owner to supervise her abandoned property constitute the maintenance of a private nuisance?
The court found in favor of the building owner and held that the abandoned property owner's building constituted a private nuisance. The court also found that the building owner was entitled to damages in an amount equal to the difference in the market value of the building before and after the nuisance. There were thousands of buildings abandoned throughout New York City, and some of them did not constitute a nuisance. However, the abandoned property owner's building had been abandoned in a location where property owners were actively trying to maintain and upgrade the housing standards. Also, the abandoned property owner had clearly violated New York City, N.Y., Admin. Code § C26-80.0 by not providing continuous guarding or sealing of the vacant building.