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Bowling v. Nicholson

51 N.E.3d 439 (2016)

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Bowling v. Nicholson

Indiana Court of Appeals

51 N.E.3d 439 (2016)

Facts

Gary and Mable Bowling (plaintiffs) owned property in rural Indiana. Christopher and Shelley Nicholson (defendants) bought a 4 parcel of land adjacent to the Bowlings’ property and built an outdoor wood boiler to heat their home. The Nicholsons’ use of the boiler was legal, and it saved them $200 to $300 per month in utility bills, but it emitted toxic smoke that drifted onto the Bowlings’ land, greatly diminishing the air quality in and around their home. The smoke was so severe and pervasive that Mable suffered health problems and some of the Bowlings’ friends and family members refused to visit due to the poor air quality. The Bowlings sued the Nicholsons for nuisance and moved for a preliminary injunction. In support of their motion, the Bowlings presented evidence that the Nicholsons’ operation of the boiler was offensive to the senses and obstructed the free use of the Bowlings’ land. The trial court ignored the Bowlings’ evidence and assumed that their claim was based on physical damage to their property. The court denied the motion for preliminary injunction, finding that (1) the Bowlings had not established irreparable harm, (2) the Bowlings were not reasonably likely to prevail on the merits, (3) the balance of harms favored the Nicholsons, and (4) the Nicholsons’ operation of the boiler did not violate the law and therefore enjoining their use would harm rather than serve the public good. The Bowlings appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Altice, J.)

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