A public nuisance is an unreasonable interference with the right of the general public to enjoy public property, such as public parks, beaches, and waterways. Conditions that endanger the health, safety, peace, or comfort of the general public are public nuisances. Thus, pollution of a public reservoir would be an example of a public nuisance.

What Are the Requirements to Bring an Action against a Public Nuisance?

The Constitution bars individuals from suing for generalized grievances that are common to all members of the general public. Because public nuisances by definition interfere with the rights of the public at large, the only individuals with standing to sue for public nuisance are government officials and individuals who have experienced special harm above and beyond what the public at large has experienced.

What Relief Is Available against a Public Nuisance?

Unlike private nuisances, which are classified as civil wrongs, public nuisances are often classified as criminal offenses. Public nuisances are typically remedied when a public official, such as a city attorney, brings a claim for criminal or civil damages against the perpetrator. The city may also be able to obtain an injunction to halt the offending activity.

If an individual who experienced special harm as a result of the nuisance chooses to bring a civil claim, their remedy will consist of a monetary damages award.

Should I Contact an Attorney?

If you think that you have a situation where you can bring a public nuisance claim, please consult a personal injury attorney. An attorney will be able to assess your situation and inform you of the possibility that a public nuisance claim will succeed.

If you are being prosecuted or sued under a public nuisance theory, you are facing the potential for hefty fines and damages awards. It would be a good idea to consult an experienced defense attorney to learn more about your rights, defenses, and the legal system.