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Extraordinary emergencies in many cases call for extraordinary remedies. That it is the duty of the courts of equity (and the same is true of all courts and all institutions) to adapt its practice and course of proceeding, as far as possible, to the existing state of society, and to apply its jurisdiction to all those new cases which, from the progress daily making in the affairs of men, must continually arise, and not from too strict an adherence to forms and rules established under very different circumstances, decline to administer justice, and to enforce rights for which there is no other remedy. This rule is certainly worthy of one of the ablest, wisest, and best judges that ever administered the chancery law of England or America. Indiana code provides that whatever is injurious to health, or indecent, or offensive to the senses, or an obstruction to the free use of property, so as essentially to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life and property, is a nuisance, and the subject of an action. The nuisance may be enjoined or abated and damages recovered therefor. 1881 Ind. Acts 290, 292.
The State of Indiana brought suit against the appellee, the Ohio Oil Company, seeking to enjoin it from wasting natural gas. The circuit court sustained Ohio Oil’s demurrer to the complaint for want of sufficient facts to constitute a cause of action, and the State, electing to abide said demurrer, and refusing to amend its complaint or to plead further, the court rendered judgment that the State take nothing by its complaint and that defendant recover costs. Upon this ruling alone the State assigned error.
Did the complaint state sufficient facts to constitute a cause of action for the State?
The court reversed and remanded. The court held that the facts stated in the complaint made a case of a public nuisance that the state had a right to have abated by injunction. The court concluded that the complaint stated facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action. The court admonished that one who recklessly, defiantly, persistently, and continuously wasted natural gas, and boldly declared his purpose to continue to do so, as the complaint charged Ohio Oil with doing, all of which it admitted to be true by its demurrer, ought not to be excused for its nuisance.