Nuisance and Civil Litigation
Oct 23, 2015
One of my first jobs out of college was working as a clerk in the Riverside County Court System. I primarily worked in the civil department in which I would file documents and then uploaded them to the web. One of the guilty pleasures was reading the complaints. A complaint is the initial pleading in a civil case. It starts the ground work for a civil case for which someone or some entity, the plaintiff has been harmed and they wish to receive damages from the injuring party, the defendant.
Complaints are fascinating. If you ever get a chance to read a complaint by all means do so. You can search court records or our online databases to find complaints. They start off so innocent with the poor plaintiff just going about their day and suddenly the defendant comes into the picture and causes harm to them. The plaintiff is left with injuries and then seeks damages from the defendant. Of course, once you read the defendant’s answer, demurrer or motions, you hear a different story. A great resource is the California Pretrial Civil Procedure, KFC 1020. M384 v.1.
But now I regress, it turns out the plaintiff’s neighbors are suing defendant’s neighbors. Anybody that has worked in civil law will tell you that neighbors suing each other is nothing new. Nolo's Neighbor Law, KF639 .J67 2014. But this case started last year and it involves plaintiff’s neighbors suing defendant’s neighbors over the defendant’s young son causing injury to the plaintiffs. They are bringing the complaint on a cause of action of public nuisance.
There are two types of nuisance causes of action: public and private. A public nuisance is one that affects at the same time an entire community or neighborhood, or any considerable number of persons, although the extent of the annoyance or damage inflicted on individuals may be unequal. 13 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed.), Equity § 135. Public nuisances are substantial and unreasonable offenses against, or interferences with, the exercise of rights common to the public, that are enjoinable or abatable.
Here, the plaintiff’s special injuries have alleged that defendant’s young son had pulled their children’s hair, biting a defendant and other menacing behavior. As much as I would love to discuss autism, the focus on this particular blog post is the tort of nuisance and civil law. In a future blog post, I might discuss autism and parent’s rights.
A year later, the latest news in this case is that it is still on going. Which is a bit surprising. Civil litigation can be quite costly if you account for the amount of time that is consumed by opposing parties filing motions or countermotions, it is not a surprising fact.
However, plaintiffs in this case have been granted a preliminary injunction. Now the plaintiffs request information to the defendant’s sons school and medical records.
Over the last few years, civil cases have moved more and more to alternative dispute resolution. I don’t know how much longer this case will last but as I said earlier civil litigation is costly and a settlement tends to be the appropriate move for all sides. If I get a chance, I will try to keep everyone posted on the development of this case.
If you ever need legal reference help or are fascinated by law, visit the excellent staff at the Riverside County Law Library, Indio Law Library and even Temecula. Although with Temecula, the guy out there is still learning so please be patient, I heard he means well.
Efren is a Library Assistant at our Temecula Law Resource Center.