Thursday, October 13, 2005
I recently took a look at Collins v. Barker, 668 N.W.2d 548 (S.D. 2003), which involved a private nuisance action for property damage sustained when weeds blew from defendant's property onto plaintiff's property. The South Dakota Supreme Court repeated what appears to be the general rule that landowners do not have a duty to control the natural spread of weeds, so long as the spread was not aided by human conduct. Thus, the spread of weeds from land left in its natural state would not be a nuisance, while the spread of weeds caused by human activity (such as the cultivation of land) would be a nuisance.
I suppose this rule makes sense for ordinary weeds -- property owners generally should not be liable for the ecosystem acting in a natural manner. But what about invasive non-native species like kudzu? I'd think that the spread of such species might be greatly curtailed if property owners were subject to private nuisance liability for the spread of the plant to a neighbor's land.
Anyone have any thoughts on this?