Where There’s Smoke….

Date: May 13, 2009

Smokey Sam and his family had been neighbors with Fresh Air Fred\’s family for about 15 years in Northern Wayne County. Fresh Air Fred had moved up from the Bronx to get away from the hustle, bustle and noise of the big city. Smokey Sam decided that he wanted to try to do something about the high cost of heating. So he bought an outside wood burner to help supplement his electric heat.

Fresh Air Fred\’s house was 50 yards downwind from Smokey Sam’s. When Smokey Sam lit up his wood burner, it became readily apparent that the smoke went right into the direction of Fresh Air Fred\’s home. Fresh Air Fred found that he could not keep his windows open and even with the windows closed, the smell of smoke was very strong in his house.

Fresh Air Fred approached Smokey Sam and advised him of the problem. Smokey Sam said that was basically the way things were and that he, Smokey Sam, could not control the way the wind blew. Fresh Air Fred stated that his wife\’s asthma was being seriously aggravated by the smoke, and they would just have to seek legal recourse.

Question: Does Fresh Air Fred have any grounds to stand on to prevent Smokey Sam from utilizing his outdoor wood burner?

Answer: Yes. As a basic tenant of the law, people are entitled to enjoy their homes without outside interference. The conduct of Smokey Sam in burning wood, wherein the smoke would go into the direction of Fresh Air Fred\’s house, would be considered a private nuisance. Certainly the smoke was affecting the health of Fresh Air Fred\’s wife and the family\’s enjoyment of their own home. Fresh Air Fred will seek from the Judge what is called an injunction wherein the court will order Smokey Sam to stop burning wood entirely or attempt some modification of his wood burner wherein the smoke would not pass in the direction of Fresh Air Fred\’s home. Fresh Air Fred can also potentially seek damages against Smokey Sam if Smokey Sam continued to burn wood causing further health problems to Fred and/or his wife who already had asthma.

Joe Price
Attorney Joe Price is a seasoned Trial Lawyer serving Northeast, Central and Southeast Pennsylvania for the past forty (40) years. He has handled serious personal injury cases in courts throughout the Federal system including New Jersey and New York. Attorney Price is A.V. Rated by Martindale Hubble. He is Board Certified in Civil Practice by the National Board of Trial Advocacy since 1996.