Defense Claim #2:
The defense said the airport noise does not fulfill the definition of public nuisance. (It probably does, but to be safe [and at the suggestion of a judge], will now claim we are dealing with an "ongoing private nuisance".)
Below are seven legal rulings that say otherwise.
            The California Supreme Court
        The California Supreme Court ruled that a municipality that owns and operates an airport is liable on a nuisance theory for personal injuries sustained by nearby residents and caused by noise from aircraft using the facility.

    Greater Westchester Homeowners Association v. City of Los Angeles

      Calif. Supreme Court, 1979, 603 P.2d 1329; cert. denied 1980, 449 US 820

It is beyond dispute that a small claims court may hear an action in nuisance.   And it has recently been established that airport noise may give rise to a nuisance action.

Greater Westchester Homeowners Assn. v. City of Los Angeles (1979) 26 Cal.3d 86, 101, 160 Cal.Rptr. 733, 603 P.2d 1329, cert. den. 449 U.S. 820, 101 S.Ct. 77, 66 L.Ed.2d 22;  


see also San Diego Unified Port Dist. v. Gianturco (9th Cir.1981) 651 F.2d 1306, p. 1313, fn. 16, cert. den. 455 U.S. 1000, 102 S.Ct. 1631, 71 L.Ed.2d 866.)

           California Civil Codes 3479 & 3480

        "Anything which is injurious to health, including, but not limited to……..……………………… obstruction to the free use of property, so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property…..” 

(California Civil Code, Section 3479.)


        "A public nuisance is one which affects at the same time an entire community or neighborhood, or any considerable number of persons, although the extent of the annoyance or damage inflicted upon individuals may be unequal." (California Civil Code, Section 3480.)

        "...liability for nuisance does not require proof of damage to the plaintiff's property; proof of interference with the plaintiff's use and enjoyment of the property is sufficient." 


       San Diego Gas & electric Co. v. Superior Court 1996

        13 Cal.4th 893, 937 [Cal.rptr.2d 724, 920 P.2d 669}

       "The essence of a private nuisance is its interference with the use and enjoyment of land. The activity in issue must 'disturb or prevent the comfortable enjoyment of property,' such as.....the noise and biration of machinery."

              Oliver v. AT&T Wireless Services 1996


        "Unlike public nuisance, which is an interference with the rights of the community at large, private nuisance is a civil wrong based on disturbance of rights in land. A nuisance may be both public and private, but to proceed on a private nuisance theory the platiniff must prove an injury specifically referable to the use and enjoyment of his or her land. The injury, however, need not be different in kind from that suffered by the vernal public."


           Koll-Irvine Center Property Owners Assn. v. County of Orange 1994

           24 Cal.App.4th 1036, 1041 [Cal.Rptr.2d 664, internal citation omitted.


            Moreover, the city's liability is not precluded by Civil Code s. 3482 which states that nothing done or maintained under express authority of statute can be deemed a nuisance. (Note: From a California Supreme Court decision: "This, of course, means that there must be an express statutory provision to that effect before a nuisance becomes legal.") Statutes that broadly authorize or regulate airports or flights do not create legislative sanction for their maintenance as a nuisance.

Citations: (26 Cal. 3d.86, 160 Cal. Rptr. 733, 603 P.2d 1329)

Greater Westchester V. City of LA, 1979, taken from Journal of Air Law and Commerce, volume 47, issue 3, 1982, Airport Noise Litigation: Case Law Review, page 483


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© 2018 by Sally Meakin.