A nuisance is a condition that substantially interferes with the use and enjoyment of land by
causing unreasonable discomfort or annoyance to persons of ordinary sensibilities.
Schneider Nat’l Carriers, Inc. v. Bates, 147 S.W.3d 264, 269 (Tex. 2004); see also Burditt
v. Swenson, 17 Tex. 489 (1856).
NUISANCE - CASE LAW SNIPPETS
“A ‘nuisance’ is a condition that substantially interferes with the use and enjoyment of land by
causing unreasonable discomfort or annoyance to persons of ordinary sensibilities.” Schneider Nat’
l Carriers, Inc. v. Bates, 147 S.W.3d 264, 269 (Tex. 2004).
“A private nuisance is a nontrespassory invasion of another’s interest in the private use or
enjoyment of land.” Bily v. Omni Equities, Inc., 731 S.W.2d 606, 611 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th
Dist.] 1987, writ ref’d n.r.e.); see Lethu, Inc. v. City of Houston, 23 S.W.3d 482, 489 (Tex. App.—
Houston [1st Dist.] 2000, pet. denied).
By contrast, a “public” or “common nuisance” is a condition that amounts to an unreasonable
interference with a right common to the general public. See Jamail v. Stoneledge Condo. Owners
Ass’n, 970 S.W.2d 673, 676 (Tex. App.—Austin 1998, no pet.).
Nuisance, whether it be public or private, is thus a field of tort liability, a kind of damage done,
rather than any particular type of conduct. As in the case of any other kind of damage, it may be
inflicted by conduct which is intended to cause harm, by that which is merely negligent, or by that
which involves an unusual hazard or risk . . . .
City of Tyler v. Likes, 962 S.W.2d 489, 504 (Tex. 1997). Thus, “[d]amages also are an essential
element of a cause of action for nuisance.” Brown v. Ultramar Diamond Shamrock Corp., No. 13-02-
00535-CV, 2004 WL 1797580 at *8 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi Aug. 12, 2004, no pet.) (mem. op.)
(citing Golden Harvest Co. v. City of Dallas, 942 S.W.2d 682, 689 (Tex. App.—Tyler 1997, pet.
denied) (“We must next examine applicable Texas law regarding the elements of nuisance
necessary to support a claim for damages.”)). A nuisance may arise by causing (1) physical harm
to property, such as by the encroachment of a damaging substance or by the property’s
destruction, (2) physical harm to a person on his or her property from an assault on his or her
senses or by other personal injury, and (3) emotional harm to a person from the deprivation of the
enjoyment of his or her property through fear, apprehension, or loss of peace of mind. Nugent v.
Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., 30 S.W.3d 562, 574–75 (Tex. App.—Texarkana 2000, pet. denied).
TEXAS SUPREME COURT CASES ON NUISANCE
City of Dallas v. Stewart, Heather,
No. 09-0257 (Tex. Jul. 1, 2011)(Opinion by Chief Wallace B. Jefferson)(administrative resolution of nuisance
abatement dispute not preclusive, judicial review available, takings claim)
THE GIST: Urban blight threatens neighborhoods. Either as a risk to public health or as a base for illicit activity,
dilapidated structures harm property values far more than their numbers suggest. Cities must be able to abate1
these nuisances to avoid disease and deter crime. But when the government sets up a mechanism to deal with
this very real problem, it must nonetheless comply with constitutional mandates that protect a citizen’s right to her
Today we hold that a system that permits constitutional issues of this importance to be decided by an
administrative board, whose decisions are essentially conclusive, does not correctly balance the need to abate
nuisances against the rights accorded to property owners under our constitution. Independent court review is a
constitutional necessity. We affirm the court of appeals’ judgment, but on different grounds.
Conclusion. That the URSB’s nuisance determination cannot be accorded preclusive effect in a takings suit is
compelled by the constitution and Steele, by Lurie and its antecedents, by the nature of the question and the nature
of the right. The protection of property rights, central to the functioning of our society,26 should not—indeed,
cannot—be charged to the same people who seek to take those rights away.
Because we believe that unelected municipal agencies cannot be effective bulwarks against constitutional
violations, we hold that the URSB’s nuisance determination, and the trial court’s affirmance of that determination
under a substantial evidence standard, were not entitled to preclusive effect in Stewart’s takings case, and the trial
court correctly considered the issue de novo.
We affirm the court of appeals judgment. Tex. R. App. P. 60.2(a).
COURT OF APPEALS CASES ON NUISANCE
IN WHICH TEX. SUP. CT DENIED REVIEW
ELTON ADAMCHEK, ET AL. v. REYNOLDS METAL COMPANY, ET AL.; from Wharton County; 13th
(13-06-00240-CV, ___ SW3d ___, 04-24-08)(nuisance, groundwater contamination, summary
"A 'nuisance' is a condition that substantially interferes with the use and enjoyment of land by
causing unreasonable discomfort or annoyance to persons of ordinary sensibilities attempting to
use and enjoy it." Holubec v. Brandenburger, 58 S.W.3d 201, 210 (Tex. App.-Austin 2001), rev'd on
other grounds, 111 S.W.3d 32 (Tex. 2003). In order to recover on a nuisance claim, the defendant
must have generally engaged in one of three kinds of activity: (1) intentional invasion of another's
interests; (2) negligent invasion of another's interest; or (3) other conduct, culpable because
abnormal and out of place in its surroundings, that invades another's interests. Aguilar v. Morales,
162 S.W.3d 825, 836 (Tex. App.-El Paso 2005, pet. denied). A nuisance may arise by causing (1)
physical harm to property, such as by the encroachment of a damaging substance or by the
property's destruction; (2) physical harm to a person on his property from an assault on his senses
or by other personal injury; and (3) emotional harm to a person from the deprivation of the
enjoyment of his property through fear, apprehension, or loss of peace of mind. Id.
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