Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Lawsuit Settles Over Chicken Manure at Wedding Site

Good fences make good neighbors. Chicken manure, not so much.

Gerald Zarella's neighbor in Exeter, Rhode Island, dumped a large pile of chicken manure close to their shared property border, just feet away from where a wedding was scheduled to be held the next day. Zarella, owner of Gerald's Farm, feels this was in retaliation for developing the land into a commercial destination site for rustic weddings. Neighbors have been unhappy with what they consider to be an intrusion into their bedroom community, and this one took matters into his own hands.

The manure dump did not violate Rhode Island criminal or environmental laws, but was a civil violation. The dumping neighbor was forced to remedy the situation, but not before 200 guests attending a wedding at Gerald's Farm and had to endure the manure. Unfortunately for readers, the case was settled for undisclosed terms. The case notes could have made for great bathroom reading.

Neighbors as Nuisance

Such is the law of nuisance, where neighbors sue neighbors over loss of use or loss of enjoyment of their real property. Sometimes these actions reach even further, affecting the healthy, safety, and welfare of the general public. To get any relief from the law, the interference of enjoyment must be substantial and continuance. But before seeking legal remedies for neighbor disputes, or manure remedies, try these steps first:

  • Talk With Your Neighbor

Sometimes all you need to do is talk it out. Maybe the enjoyment of being your neighbor is greater than the enjoyment of the offending activity. Or perhaps a compromise can be reached limiting the annoying behavior. Most of the times, these conversations fix the problem.

  • Document the Nuisance

If you speak with your neighbor and the offending activity continues, document the nuisance. Make note of the time, date, and duration of the nuisance, as well as times that you have addressed it with your neighbor, to no avail.

  • Offer Mediation

The likelihood of this neighbor remaining a neighbor is quite high, and so resolving this as peacefully and amicably as possible is in your favor. Mediators charge about the same rate as lawyers, since most of them are. But first, contact your city attorney's office, since many cities provide free mediation services.

  • Call the Police

If the situation escalates to the point of harassment, call the police. Not only with the situation be legally documented, but the also the police have remedies available to them that you don't.

It is not pleasant to be on either side of a nuisance, especially if the matter turns into an even more unpleasant lawsuit. If your neighbor is annoying you to the point of interfering with your property enjoyment, contact a real estate attorney for a free initial case assessment to discuss how to resolve your dispute.

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