Law School Case Brief
Woods v. Khan - 95 Ill. App. 3d 1087, 51 Ill. Dec. 470, 420 N.E.2d 1028 (1981)
A substantial and intentional invasion must be severe enough to constitute a material annoyance to the adjoining landowners and be foreseen as to its consequences by the offending landowner.
Plaintiffs were homeowners who reside within a mile of the defendants’ poultry business. They had lived in the area before the egg-product facility was constructed in 1977 and 1978. The neighborhood was zoned agricultural and many of the plaintiffs raised crops and livestock on their property. The defendants’ barn-like structure housed 50,000 chickens which layed eggs. During the first year of the operation of its business, the manure was removed every six months. Plaintiffs brought suit against the defendant, arguing that the defendants’ business brought with it several annoyances, i.e., fowl odor and flies. The strength of the smell and the number of the insects varied from day to day and from season to season, but all witnesses for the plaintiffs acknowledged their discomfort. Some were required to seal their houses during hot, humid summer days when both odor and insect problems were at their worst. Some curtailed their outdoor activities and stopped inviting guests to their homes. Still others experienced physical ailments, including breathing difficulties, sore throats and feelings of nausea which they attributed to the egg facility. The trial court issued the injunction. The defendants appealed the injunction.
Was the injunction properly granted?
The appellate court determined that the injunction was properly granted. According to the court, the trial court determined that the odors and flies were sufficiently bothersome to justify injunctive relief. The court posited that the complaining homeowners could not be found to be unduly sensitive, and the invasion of their land was both substantial and intentional. It was also unreasonable because the evidence at trial suggested that the medium-large facility was located too close to several residences.
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