South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Farmer Could Sue Neighbor Farmer in Nuisance for Massive Weed Infestation
Description South Dakota high court held that a farmer could bring nuisance action against a neighbor who did not keep non-noxious weeds under control on his property such that large quantities of the weeds blew on surrounding land and damaged agricultural operations.
Topic Real and Personal Property
Key Words Nuisance; Weeds
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Collins owns a farm in South Dakota that is surrounded on all sides by property owned by Barker, who rents the land to tenants. Large quantities of weeds grew on Barker's property and blew on to Collins' property. There were so many weeds that they covered fences and filled water tanks, which made the water unfit for livestock. Collins complained, but not much was done. The county weed control board said that the weed in question was not classified as a noxious weed subject to control by the state. Collins sued Barker for nuisance. The trial court held that a landowner has no duty to control non-noxious weeds. Collins appealed.
Decision

Reversed. Under the law of nuisance, landowners have a duty to exercise ordinary care that a careful landowner would use in similar circumstances, taking into consideration generally accepted agricultural and management practices. Barker has a duty to conduct his farming practice as it relates to the control of weeds in a manner that does not create a nuisance to his neighbors. Hence, Collins could bring a nuisance claim for damages suffered from weeds from Barker's land.

Citation Collins v. Barker, 668 N.W.2d 548 (Sup. Ct., S.D., 2003)

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