South Carolina Supreme Court

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South Carolina's highest court rejects plaintiff lawyers' attempts to dramatically expand state negligence law

August 14, 2013

The Supreme Court of South Carolina held “while we recognize that a negligence claim based on offensive odors is possible, we stress that such a claim would have to satisfy all the elements of negligence like any other negligence claim.”

U.S. Chamber files amicus brief

March 18, 2013

NCLC urged the Supreme Court of South Carolina to determine what legal framework should govern firms that conduct lawful, socially useful business that may emit odors or other potentially irritating - but otherwise physically harmless - externalities. NCLC argued in its amicus brief that offensive-odor claims are properly limited to nuisance because, unlike negligence law, nuisance doctrine is deliberately calibrated to balance property owners' competing rights. Nuisance law requires plaintiffs to satisfy additional requirements that negligence law lacks. For example, nuisance allows only those with a property interest to sue, requires plaintiffs to prove a significant interference with their enjoyment of their property, and stresses balancing plaintiffs' interference with the utility of defendant's conduct. The balance respects both property owners' rights. NCLC warned that embracing an independent cause of action for negligence would skew the balance irretrievably in favor of plaintiffs and against businesses like the defendant that may generate odors and other externalities while conducting lawful and socially valuable enterprises.

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