Carpenter v. Double R Cattle Company, Inc.
of Appeals of
Johnson, pp. 769-779
Facts: Whoa! This is a long case. But the facts aren’t complicated. Some neighbors are suing to prevent the expansion of a nearby cattle feedlot. The jury was instructed based on the First Restatement to balance the injury to the homeowners against the social value of the feedlot. The jury found that no nuisance existed. The homeowners appealed.
Issue: Was the jury properly
instructed at trial as to what constitutes a nuisance under
Rule: NEW RULE! Damages may be awarded for nuisance even if that nuisance is caused by a “socially valuable” activity. The role of the law of nuisance is to internalize externalities.
Analysis: The court basically abandons existing state law which was based on the First Restatement and instead adopts the Second Restatement. The essential difference between the old rule and the new rule is that the “social value” of the source of the nuisance can excuse all liability. The social utility of an activity should be taken into consideration, but damages can still be awarded even if the nuisance is useful.
The court responds to objections to the Second Restatement rule from both sides of the litigation plus associated amicus curiae.
Conclusion: The judgment is vacated and a new trial is ordered.