Spur Industries, Inc. v. Del E. Webb Development Co.


Defendant operated a cattle feedlot next to a nearby neighborhood which was found to be a nuisance by the trial court.  The trial court permanently enjoined the activities of the feedlot.  The Defendant continually purchased new land and expanded the neighborhood’s borders closer to the feedlot.  The nuisance was recorded as the large populations of flies and foul odor, which is not in dispute.


“Where the operation of a business, such as a cattle feedlot is lawful in the first instance, but becomes a nuisance by reason of a nearby residential area, may the feedlot operation be enjoined in an action brought by the developer of the residential area?”


Yes, remanded to lower court for damage assessment.  A private nuisance should only be remedied by damages.  A public nuisance is legitimately remedied by damages or injunction.  An injunction is property where damage to the public is great.  However, the court created a “coming to a nuisance” theory, which disallowed injunction where the owner of a home builds or “comes to” the nuisance him or herself.  However, the court stated that this case was a particular exception to this rule because the nuisance was of a public character; there was a public interest in halting the nuisance.  A public nuisance is one where the entire public’s rights and enjoyment of property are impacted.  A private one is where a single individual or small group of individuals’ rights and enjoyment of property are affected.  As such, because the nuisance was public, injunction or equitable relief could be justified.

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