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FactsEdit

Elliott was in charge of a church in a small town and regularly had the bell rung several times a day. Rogers was recovering from sunstroke and suffered from convulsions which his doctor attributed to the noise from the bell. Despite being asked, Elliott refused to cease ringing the bell and Rogers sued for the damage that the noise was causing him.

IssueEdit

  1. What can the defendant reasonably do in the use of the real estate in which he had charge?
  2. Does the motive of the defendant matter?
  3. How does the peculiar susceptibility of the plaintiff affect reasonableness of use?

DecisionEdit

Case dismissed.

ReasonsEdit

Although care must be given to the affect that actions have on ordinary people in the area, here the plaintiff's claim rested solely on his peculiar position. The sphere of legitimate conduct on one's own land cannot change when one develops an uncommon condition or a sensitive person moves nearby. While the court, in obiter statements, said that malice may be material, due to the lack of evidence of malice (although the plaintiff claimed malice was implied) it was not considered in this case.

RatioEdit

  • The right to make a noise for a proper purpose must be measured in reference to the degree of annoyance which others may reasonably be required to submit to.
  • There is no nuisance if the plaintiff is of particular and uncommon sensitivity, because it would set too uncertain of a standard.
  • In nuisances of noise, the motive of the noisemaker must be considered.

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