Property is surely a right of mankind as real as liberty.

John Adams

Yes, you can.

What Is Nuisance In California?

Nuisance in California is a tort, or civil wrong. You probably heard about other torts, like negligence or battery.

Civil Code § 3479 defines nuisance as “anything which is injurious to health…or is…offensive to the senses, or an obstruction to the free use of property, so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property…”

If anything obstructs, or interferes with, your use or enjoyment of your property, it could be a nuisance.

There are two types of nuisance in California: 1) Public Nuisance; and 2) Private Nuisance.

Public nuisance is defined by Civil Code § 3480.

Basically, a private nuisance is concerned with private interests, but a public nuisance is concerned with community interests.

How Do You Prove Public Nuisance In California?

Here are the basic elements you must show in order to prove public nuisance:

  • Defendant created a condition to exist that was either 1) harmful to health; 2) offensive to senses; or 3) obstructed the free use of property, so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of that property;
  • That condition affected a substantial number of people at the same time;
  • An ordinary person would be reasonably annoyed by the condition;
  • The seriousness of the harm outweighs the social utility of defendant’s conduct;
  • You didn’t consent to defendant’s conduct;
  • You suffered harm different from the harm suffered by the public; and
  • Defendant’s conduct was a substantial factor in causing your harm.

How Do You Prove Private Nuisance In California?

Here are the basic elements you must show in order to prove private nuisance:

  • You owned or controlled property;
  • Defendant created a condition to exist that was either 1) harmful to health; 2) offensive to senses; or 3) obstructed the free use of property, so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of that property;
  • Defendant’s conduct was intentional, reckless, or negligent;
  • The condition substantially interfered with your use or enjoyment of your land;
  • An ordinary person would be reasonably annoyed by the condition;
  • You didn’t consent to defendant’s conduct;
  • You were harmed;
  • Defendant’s conduct was a substantial factor in causing your harm; and
  • The seriousness of the harm outweighs the social utility of defendant’s conduct.

What Damages Are Recoverable In A Nuisance Lawsuit?

Damages may be recovered for “annoyance and distress, including mental anguish.” Nominal damages are often awarded as well. See Kornoff v Kingsburg Cotton Oil Co (1955) 45 Cal.2d 265, 272. Those damages are distinct from general damages for mental or emotional distress. See Kelly v CB&I Construction, Inc (2009) 179 Cal.App.4th 442, 456.

What Are The Statutes Of Limitations For Nuisance In California?

Generally, suit must be brought within 3 yrs of the nuisance. See CCP § 338(b).

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