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Rattigan v. Wile

Supreme Court of Massachusetts
841 N.E.2d 680 (2006)


Facts

John Rattigan and Jeffrey Horvitz (plaintiffs) owned an oceanfront estate containing a luxurious residence, pool, and manicured grounds. In 1992, Evan Wile (defendant) purchased an adjoining 2.9-acre parcel at a foreclosure auction. The plaintiffs filed lawsuits seeking to prevent Wile from: (1) using a right of way through the plaintiffs’ property and (2) building on Wile’s own property. These lawsuits were unsuccessful. However, several years later, the plaintiffs did successfully challenge Wile’s building permit. Wile then began a campaign of retaliation against the plaintiffs. From August 1999 to July 2003, Wile engaged in a series of acts designed to annoy and disrupt the plaintiffs. Wile dumped construction debris along the boundary line with the plaintiffs’ property and brought in a red, full-size freight container. The plaintiffs attempted to shield their view by erecting a fence, but Wile stacked the debris higher. Wile even placed several pieces of debris, including a rusted crane bucket, on top of the freight container. Wile also: (1) placed a temporary office trailer on concrete blocks to raise the trailer’s windows above the fence to provide a view of the plaintiffs’ pool area, (2) landed a helicopter on the property several times, (3) installed portable toilets near the pool, and (4) organized large parties on the property that Wile did not attend. The plaintiffs sued Wile for creating a private nuisance. The plaintiffs won damages based on the loss of rental revenue. The plaintiffs also obtained a broad injunction that prohibited Wile from taking any action that would have the effect of causing substantial worry, annoyance, or offense to the plaintiffs. Wile appealed, and the Supreme Court of Massachusetts heard the appeal.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Cowin, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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