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Baptiste v. Bethlehem Landfill Co.

ELR Citation: 50 ELR 20175
Nos. 19-1692, (3d Cir., 07/13/2020)

The Third Circuit reinstated a lawsuit concerning noxious odors emanating from a landfill in Pennsylvania. A proposed class of residents living within a 2.5-mile radius of the landfill brought public and private nuisance claims, arguing the odors and other air contaminants interfered with the use and enjoyment of their homes and reduced their property values. The district court held that too many residents were similarly affected to sustain a private claim for public nuisance, and that the odors affected too many people and the landfill was too far away from them to constitute a private nuisance, and thus dismissed the suit. The appellate court found the residents had sufficiently alleged that their private property rights—to use and enjoy their swimming pools, porches, and yards—were being significantly and unreasonably infringed upon by the odors and air contaminants released by the landfill, and thus that they stated both a private claim for public nuisance and a private nuisance claim. It therefore reversed the district court ruling and remanded for further proceedings.