Law School Case Brief
Smith v. Staso Milling Co - 18 F.2d 736 (2d Cir. 1927)
Vermont decisions are not different, as respects the rights of riparians, from the general law. The defendant, while not using the brook directly, has created in its neighborhood deposits of sludge which were not there in a state of nature. When in ordinary course this is carried into the brook through the settling beds, it is the equivalent of directly defiling the stream itself, becomes a wrong, and subjects the defendant to some form of action, either at law, in equity, or both.
Plaintiff landowner initiated an action against defendant corporation, Staso Milling Co., and sought an injunction to stop defendant from defiling the air with dust, trespassing upon adjoining property by blasting and throwing dirt, and polluting a stream which adjoined both parties' properties. The district court granted the injunction, and defendant sought review.
Did the court err in granting an injunction against the defendants for polluting the stream?
The appellate court held that the injury to the stream and adjoining land was so substantial and the wrong so deliberate that it ought to impose upon defendant the peril of any failure successfully to avoid it. The court sustained the injunction with respect to the stream pollution. The court held that the injury of defiling the air was less oppressive, but affirmed the injunction with leave to defendant to apply for relief upon showing that there were no better means to stop the dust from escaping its factory. The court modified the injunction with respect to the blasting trespass to forbid blasting at night and prohibit any charges which unreasonably jarred plaintiff's house.
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