2020 Environmental Real Estate Issues

An intermediate Texas court, the 12th Court of Appeals in Tyler, Texas, affirmed a Henderson County, Texas District (trial level) Court’s injunction that ordered the permanent closure of a chicken farm.  The District Court’s injunction ordered the owners and operators of the farm and the company that provided the chickens to close the farm and not attempt to operate another chicken farm within five miles of the neighbors who brought the suit.

Temporary but Recurring Nuisance
While the jury found the farm was causing odor nuisance conditions for the neighbors, it concluded the nuisance was temporary.  The neighbors did not present evidence necessary for a monetary award based on temporary nuisance and thus could not recover money damages.

In separate findings, the judge determined the nuisance, while temporary, “was of a recurring nature.”  According to the Tyler Court, Texas law allows an injunction even when no monetary damages are awarded when the evidence shows the recurring nuisance will not stop unless enjoined.  The Court noted that representatives of the company supplying the chickens testified they approved of the farm and had no intention of seeking changes in its operation.

Equities Favored an Injunction
When considering a request for injunction, courts “balance the equities and relative hardships on the parties and the public.”  The Court agreed the equities favored the injunction.  The chicken supplier had other options for processing chickens, the farm’s operator obtained governmental approvals by fraud, and the odors were harmful to the neighbors.

To see the Tyler Court’s opinion https://search.txcourts.gov/SearchMedia.aspx?MediaVersionID=bfc5461d-a4fe-43bd-a022-648a2acb391c&MediaID=d6cd2904-afb4-4899-98b5-b14ec08000cc&coa=%22%20+%20this.CurrentWebState.CurrentCourt%20+%20@%22&DT=Opinion