Tuesday, December 5, 2023
John Goldberg has posted to SSRN On Being a Nuisance. The abstract provides:
Nuisance is once again a hot topic in legal practice and scholarship. Public nuisance law is at the center of efforts to hold product manufacturers, energy companies, and internet platforms liable for billions in losses. Scholars have in turn offered competing accounts of the legitimacy and scope of this form of liability. Meanwhile, private nuisance has been the subject of renewed academic attention, including the issuance of new Restatement provisions, that aim to make sense of its distinctive features. Unfortunately, to date, these two lines of inquiry have mostly been pursued in isolation, a pattern that reflects the prevailing wisdom (famously articulated by William Prosser and others) that the two nuisances share nothing beyond a common name. To the contrary, this article maintains that the key to practical and theoretical progress in this complex area of law is to appreciate that the two nuisances are variants of the same general concept. As variants, they do indeed differ: a private nuisance is a wrong involving the violation of another’s right to use and enjoy their property, whereas public nuisance in the first instance does not turn on the violation of private property rights. And yet both nuisances involve wrongful interferences with others’ access to, or use of, physical spaces or resources. By attending to and appreciating this common core, lawyers, judges, and scholars will be better positioned to develop nuisance law in a consistent and principled manner.