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Spur Indus. v. Del E. Webb Dev. Co. - 108 Ariz. 178, 494 P.2d 700 (1972)


The difference between a private nuisance and a public nuisance is generally one of degree. A private nuisance is one affecting a single individual or a definite small number of persons in the enjoyment of private rights not common to the public, while a public nuisance is one affecting the rights enjoyed by citizens as a part of the public. To constitute a public nuisance, the nuisance must affect a considerable number of people or an entire community or neighborhood.

The law of nuisance affords no rigid rule to be applied in all instances. It is elastic. It undertakes to require only that which is fair and reasonable under all the circumstances. 


Spur Industries, Inc., defendant, owned cattle feedlots prior to the construction of plaintiff Del E. Webb Development Co.’s nearby residential development. Del. E. Webb Development Co. sued Spur Industries, Inc. claiming that the feedlots were a public nuisance because of the flies and odor that drifted toward the development. The trial court permanently enjoined Spur Industries, Inc. from operating the feedlots. Thereafter, Spur Industries, Inc. appealed.


Were the feedlots owned by Spur Industries, Inc. a public nuisance?




The court affirmed the judgment of the trial court permanently enjoining the feedlot operations, holding that the feedlots were both a public and private nuisance. According to the court, a populous neighborhood was affected by the odor and flies, and the public's health was affected. The court held, however, that Del E. Webb Development Co., having brought people to the nuisance to the foreseeable detriment of Spur Industries, Inc., was required to indemnify the latter for his costs of relocating or shutting down the feedlots. The court, therefore, remanded the case for a hearing on the damages sustained by Spur Industries, Inc.

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