Monday, May 01, 2006

Right To Farm Does Not Protect A Malicious Structure

Morytko v. Westfort, 2005 Conn. Super. LEXIS 1456 (Ct. Sup. Ct. 2005).

In this action, a defendant sold most of his farm for subdivision but retained a small part on which he produced bedding plants and hay but always kept some animals.

Previously, the defendant had moved cattle onto his property immediately adjacent to the plaintiff, possibly in retaliation over a dispute among members of the subdivision, but removed them.

When the plaintiff's husband became a board member of the subdivision and the board decided to place street signs, one Ranno, on whose lot a sign was to be placed, stated he was going to place animals on Westfort's property and not remove them until the sign was removed. Ranno and Westfort together located animals on the property adjacent to the property line and also a truck with the legend "Baa baa" painted on it.

The plaintiff alleged that the animal pen and the box truck were nuisances and a maliciously erected structure, which is actionable under Connecticut law. The defendant raised the right to farm law, Conn. Gen. Stat. sec. 19a-341 (2005) as a bar to a nuisance action.

The court noted that the statute did not apply when a nuisance arose from negligent, willful or reckless conduct in the operation of the farm. As it was likely that the plaintiff would prevail in showing willful conduct on the part of the defendants, they would likely not prevail on their right to farm defense.


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