Citizens for Odor Nuisance Abatement v. City of San Diego

Summary judgment was properly entered for city in a public nuisance suit since the city showed its conduct had not caused the sea lions to occupy near-shore rocks, fouling the air with the stench of their excrement.  Causation of harm is a required element of a public nuisance case.  The plaintiff must be able to show a causal link between the defendant’s conduct and the alleged harm.  Here, the trial court properly granted San Diego summary judgment against a claim that it caused a public nuisance of sea lion waste odor in La Jolla cove by erecting a fence that kept humans off rocks which became welcome sites for sea lion congregations.  San Diego proved on summary judgment that the fence had been in place for several decades but the sea lions had come to occupy the rocks only recently.  A public entity might be liable for a nuisance if its conduct caused wild animals to engage in conduct that was a nuisance to neighbors, but here, the evidence showed that nothing the city had done lured the sea lions to the rocks.

California Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division 1 (Huffman, Acting P.J.); February 9, 2017; 2017 WL 526503



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