Karen Paris and her brother, Thomas McNelley, were neighbors of Leonard and Cynthia Lussier in a Vermont county. Paris and McNelley filed a complaint against the Lussiers, seeking on trespass and nuisance grounds to obtain damages and a court order prohibiting the defendants from using an indoor woodstove to heat their home. The plaintiffs alleged that the use of the stove caused smoke, particulate matter, and/or carbon monoxide to infiltrate their property and home, and that they suffered physical harm and injury as a result.
The case proceeded to trial. The plaintiffs produced evidence that McNelley suffered from cerebral palsy and the medical problems associated with that condition, including respiratory restrictions. In addition, the plaintiffs testified that they experienced irritation and pulmonary distress as a result of the defendants' use of the woodstove. The evidence also showed that the woodstove had a blower-type supplemental heater fueled by propane gas and did not meet Environmental Protection Agency standards, but was not inherently unlawful. The trial rejected the plaintiffs' trespass claim and held that they had not proven the elements necessary for a nuisance cause of action. The plaintiffs appealed to the Supreme Court of Vermont. Was the trial court correct in rejecting the plaintiffs' trespass claim? Was the trial court correct in ruling in favor of the defendants on the nuisance claim?

  • CreatedJuly 16, 2014
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