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Law School Case Brief

Weinhold v. Wolff - 555 N.W.2d 454 (Iowa 1996)


Whether a lawful business is a nuisance depends on the reasonableness of conducting the business in the manner, at the place, and under the circumstances in question. Thus the existence of a nuisance does not depend on the intention of the party who created it. Rather, it depends on the following three factors: priority of location, the nature of the neighborhood, and the wrong complained of. It is clear that whether a party has created and maintained a nuisance is ordinarily a factual question.


The landowners' property was next to land converted into a hog feeding and hog confinement facility. The smell from the hog waste caused physical illnesses in the landowners and their guests. About a year after beginning the hog business, the facility owners sought and received an agricultural area designation for their land. A year later, the landowners filed a nuisance action and the facility owners answered, asserted affirmative defenses, and counterclaimed. The case was tried solely on the landowners' nuisance claim. The trial court found that the hog facility was a temporary nuisance, and awarded damages for the landowners' pain and suffering up until the day of trial, but refused to grant injunctive relief. Both the landowner and the hog facility appealed.


Was the hog facility a nuisance?




The Supreme Court of Iowa held that the hog facility was a nuisance, but contrary to the findings of the trial court, it was a nuisance of permanent character. According to the court, a permanent nuisance contemplated that the nuisance was at once necessarily productive of all the damages that can ever result from it. Furthermore, the court held that the landowner was entitled to damages for all past, present, and future special damages, in contrast to the trial court's award of damages through the trial date. The court held that if injuries from a nuisance were of a permanent character and went to the entire value of the estate, there could be but one action, and all damages, past, present, and future, were recoverable therein; in such a case, one recovery was a grant or license to continue the nuisance, and there could be no second recovery for its continuance. The court remanded the case, with instructions to the trial court to determine the amount, if any, that the landowners were to receive for the diminution in the market value of their land. The court affirmed the trial court's denial of injunctive relief.

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