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Suing a Neighbor for Misuse of Pesticides and Herbicides

Responsibly applied pesticides and herbicides can be useful ways to control weeds and pests. Some consumer-grade chemicals, like the popular herbicide RoundUp, are engineered to persist in the environment for a short time to limit the harm they can cause to people, pets, and wildlife. But the use of these chemicals requires care and a good understanding of the risks they can pose to health. When a neighbor uses chemicals in a way that leads to serious harm, or threatens to do so, a lawsuit may be an appropriate remedy. The specific approach one takes to disputes with a neighbor depends on the facts of the dispute. Several legal tools are available to address irresponsible use of chemicals:
  • Nuisance. The nuisance cause of action can be an appropriate response to unreasonable behavior by a neighbor. In a case involving chemical use, there are two critical requirements that a plaintiff must satisfy to successfully sue. First, the use of chemicals must be unreasonable, unwarrantable, or unlawful. Reasonableness is typically measured according to the standards of average people (as opposed to professional exterminators) and depends heavily on context. Ordinary spraying of a weed killer may meet the reasonableness requirement, but dumping large quantities of rat poison pellets all over an unfenced residential property might qualify as “unreasonable.” Secondly, the use of chemicals must be the cause of a loss of enjoyment of the plaintiff’s property. So long as the effects of the chemical use do not pass beyond the boundaries of the defendant’s property the plaintiff may not have a cause of action.
  • Personal injury. To prevail in a personal injury lawsuit in Nevada the plaintiff needs to prove, among other things, that the defendant was negligent and the plaintiff suffered injuries as a consequence of the negligence. Negligence requires a breach of a legal obligation, which sets up a preliminary challenge to any personal injury suit. Ordinary, responsible use of chemicals on one’s property probably doesn’t breach any legal duty to others. On the other hand, spraying or spreading chemicals that go onto another person’s property may constitute unlawful trespass.
  • Injunctions. If a neighbor is continuing to do something that is causing damage or threatening to cause damage the plaintiff can ask the court to order the neighbor to stop by way of an injunction. Injunctions typically form part of a broader case and must be based, among other things, on a reasonable probability of success of the underlying claim. That claim might be nuisance, personal injury, or some other theory. Injunctions can be temporary or permanent. A permanent injunction may be one of the goals of a suit that is also asking for cash compensation. Temporary injunctions are relatively easy to obtain, but they only last for a short time.
For over 45 years the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury cases. We can assist you with resolving neighbor disputes. Call today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or request a call through our website.

Pesticides, Herbicides, and Long-Term Health Problems

Pesticides, Herbicides, and Long-Term Health Problems
In sufficient concentrations, pesticides and herbicides used in many forms of agriculture are known to cause a range of health problems, from irritated skin to hormonal imbalances, nerve problems, and cancer. Studies have found a connection between the use of the herbicide Roundup and celiac disease, also known as gluten intolerance. People who are harmed by agricultural chemicals may have legal recourse to recover compensation, but there are a range of challenges that a plaintiff must overcome.

Establishing causation can be difficult in pesticides cases

In a personal injury case the plaintiff must show, among other things, that the defendant’s negligent actions or inactions caused the plaintiff’s injury. In cases involving injuries caused by chemicals, a central question can be whether the defendant’s chemical really caused the injury, or if other intervening sources might be to blame. Putting aside the exotic situation where someone accidentally eats a huge amount of a toxic substance, the most common scenario involves health problems that are slow to develop and difficult to trace. Highly technical evidence is usually required to establish the causal link between the defendant’s chemical and the plaintiff’s injury. Scientific studies can be useful evidence. Typically, one or more expert witnesses are asked to provide written or oral testimony. The witness, who must be properly qualified (for example, an oncologist to speak about causes of cancer), may give a professional opinion about the chemical at issue has been shown to cause the plaintiff’s injury. Scientific evidence doesn’t always provide clear answers. Two studies of similar issues may reach different conclusions. Experts can disagree about the effectiveness of a study’s methods or its applicability to the plaintiff’s particular case. Cases involving relatively new health problems, like celiac disease, may suffer from inadequate studies. And chemical manufacturers often conduct tests of their own, with “experts” standing by to refute any claims about a chemical’s toxicity.

When? Where?

Another problem for plaintiffs is showing precisely when and where they came in contact with the defendant’s chemical. If the plaintiff cannot prove that he or she was exposed to the chemical at issue, a successful case will be hard to make. Proving exposure can be especially challenging if it happened a long time ago. On the other hand, if many people are suffering from the same problems and exposure to the same chemical can be established between them, a group of plaintiffs may be able to draw an inference that would not otherwise be available to an individual. Questions of exposure can be different for someone who works closely with agricultural chemicals. Farm laborers, who are excluded from Nevada’s workers’ compensation system, can be exposed to extremely high levels of toxicity if not adequately protected. Someone who has been exposed to very high levels of toxic chemicals and has developed a serious illness as a result should consult with an attorney as soon as possible.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented injured clients to help them get the compensation they deserve. If you are suffering from an illness that may have been caused by exposure to agricultural chemicals, reach out to us today for a free, confidential attorney consultation. Call us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.