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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.

Suing a Neighbor for Nuisance in Nevada

In a perfect world conflicts between neighbors would get resolved without needing to resort to the legal system. But sometimes a neighbor’s bad behavior forces a homeowner to do more than just make a friendly request. When a neighbor’s actions are severe enough, the legal theory of nuisance can be a source of potential relief. Under Nevada law a number of things can give rise to a nuisance claim. NRS 40.140 provides that the following things constitute actionable nuisance:
  1. Anything injurious to health, or indecent and 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. This broad category can apply to many types of situation. It would probably apply to a neighbor who regularly burns trash, sending dirty smoke into adjacent lots. It could also apply to a neighbor who constantly parks a vehicle where it prevents access to another person’s property.
  2. A building or place used in connection with the manufacture, storage, or sale of a controlled substances. There are two dimensions to Nevada’s “drug house” law. It can apply to any place where illegal substances are made, sold or given away. This law could be applied to stop a neighbor from throwing parties where illegal drugs are routinely made available to guests. The law also provides mechanisms for stopping the manufacture of illegal drugs. An obvious example would be the case of a basement “meth lab” that is venting toxic fumes into neighboring properties.
  3. A building or place regularly and continuously used by members of a criminal gang to engage in or facilitate criminal activity.
To bring an action for nuisance the plaintiff must be able to prove two elements. First, the nuisance must be causing damages, either to the plaintiff’s property itself (such as reducing its value, or causing physical harm) or to the plaintiff’s enjoyment of his or her property. Second, the nuisance must be of a kind that the court system can resolve. What this means is that the plaintiff must offer a solution to the problem that the court can provide, such as by ordering the defendant to stop doing the activity causing the nuisance. In some cases the plaintiff may also recover cash compensation where the nuisance has caused physical damage to property, but the chief aim of a nuisance claim is to end the problematic behavior. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez represents clients in personal injury and other disputes. We would be happy to discuss your potential nuisance claim with you. For a free attorney consultation about your case, please give us a call today at 702-388-4476. We can also be reached through our contacts page.