A person is entitled to the right to enjoy his property without interference from others. In order for this interference to be considered a nuisance, it must be both substantial and unreasonable. The nuisance complained of by the plaintiff cannot be a petty complaint, but one that a reasonable person would find bothersome.
An overly sensitive person who is disturbed very easily would not be awarded damages for a nuisance that does not substantially interfere with his property. This often is the happens in cases where a plaintiff is complaining of a loud noise or an offensive odor. Just because a plaintiff has an overly sensitive sense of smell, does not mean he will be awarded damages. The smell must be found to substantially offend the average person.
The interference must also be unreasonable. The courts will weigh the interests of the defendant against those of the plaintiff to determine what is unreasonable. The interference with the plaintiff’s comfort must be greater than the benefits of the defendant’s conduct. It must be something that a reasonable person would complain of. However, in certain cases, even if a defendant’s conduct has social benefits, if the injuries to the plaintiff are extreme, the defendant may still be liable.
Because nuisance is a tort that is based on the reasonable person standard, it is very dependent on the individual circumstances of a situation. A nuisance per se is one that is considered a violation under any circumstance regardless of time or place. A nuisance in fact is not necessarily a nuisance unless the situation in which it occurs makes it such.
For example, when a plaintiff is complaining of a loud noise coming from the defendant’s property, the characteristics of a neighborhood may be called into question. A noise may be considered overly loud and offensive in a rural area, but not in a more densely populated area.
In this case, a jury would examine all aspects of the situation in order to determine whether a plaintiff deserves to collect damages. If it is decided that an average, reasonable individual in the same situation as the plaintiff would be substantially bothered by the defendant’s conduct, then the plaintiff will collect.