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State of New Jersey v. Maglies

A-5648-03T5 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2005) (Unpublished)

NUISANCE—A house’s defective downspouts that can only be reached by trespassers, by their nature, could only be a private nuisance, not a public one.

A homeowner received a summons because he had not removed downspouts that a municipal housing inspector claimed constituted a public nuisance. In municipal court, the homeowner argued, among other things, that the inspector failed to adequately prove that the downspouts on his property were a public nuisance.

The Appellate Division agreed with the homeowner and held that, since members of the public would be impacted by the downspouts only if a passerby trespassed onto the homeowner’s driveway and only if the passerby was short enough to get wet from leaking roof water, the downspouts did not have a substantial enough effect upon the public to be considered a public nuisance. In addition, the downspouts’ condition did not affect so many people as to be a matter of grave concern. In sum, because of their nature, the downspouts, at most, created a private nuisance.


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