Blanks v. Rawson

Court of Appeals of South Carolina, 1988.

296 S.C. 110, 370 S.E.2d 890.

Johnson, pp. 765-768


Facts: Rawson bought a lot in a new subdivision.  He wanted to build a house very much like his current house, including a basketball court and a dog pen.  The developer of the subdivision declared certain restrictions on all the lots in the subdivision, but reserved the right to change the restrictions at will.  Rawson got permission from the developer to vary from the restrictions.  The Blanks moved in next door and built their own house.  They objected to the noise from the basketball court and the noise and smell from the dog pen.  They sued, claiming that Rawson violated the neighborhood restrictions.  The trial court found that all of these things were nuisances, except the fence, which they held was simply “wrong”.


Issue: Did any of these annoyances constitute a nuisance?


Rule: Private nuisance is determined on a case-by-case basis, and not every annoyance or disturbance is a nuisance.  Only when someone’s legal rights have been violated will a nuisance be found.


Analysis: First, the court finds that there has been no violation of the neighborhood restrictions because the developer specifically approved all of Rawson’s deviations from the restrictions.  The court finds that the basketball goal is not a nuisance because it appears to be more of an anticipatory nuisance than an actual nuisance.  There has never been damage from the ball bouncing into the Blanks’s yard.  The court finds that the dog pen is a nuisance, relying on the findings of the trial judge in light of conflicting evidence.  Finally, the court finds that the fence is not a nuisance, but rather could be the best solution to the problem.  The court says that the Blanks did not have a prescriptive easement to view the lake.  The fence also doesn’t violate any restriction because Rawson got permission to put it there.


Conclusion: The trial court is affirmed as far as the dog pen goes, but is reversed as to the fence and the basketball court.


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