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Private nuisance claims must be brought within 3-year statute of limitations

Holding that the three-year limitations period applied to the plaintiff's nuisance claim, the court affirmed the trial court's order granting the defendant summary disposition. However, it remanded the case for consideration of plaintiff's request for attorney fees and costs. The parties are neighbors. According to plaintiff, defendant "built a new shed on his property in violation of the local setback requirements. After the local municipality refused to enforce the setback requirement," plaintiff filed this suit. The trial court determined that plaintiff's nuisance claim was subject to the three-year period of limitations provided under MCL 600.5085, and since he sued more than three years after defendant constructed or altered the shed, the trial court dismissed plaintiff's claim as time-barred. The complaint, which was filed on 7/1/13, alleged that defendant made an addition to his property in 2007 that constituted a nuisance per se. The court noted that the complaint did not allege that plaintiff was asserting a claim based on a public nuisance. He also did not argue that he was asserting a public nuisance claim in his answer to defendant's summary disposition motion or at the motion hearing. Instead, he emphasized at the hearing and on appeal that the six-year imitations period applied "because he requested injunctive relief instead of monetary damages." However, while he "requested an abatement of the nuisance rather than monetary damages, MCL 600.5815 provides that the limitations period applies whether the action is equitable or legal." Further, "the continuing wrongs doctrine no longer applies to nuisance claims" and plaintiff did not allege that defendant "took any discrete acts amounting to a nuisance after he constructed the shed at issue." The "six-year limitations period in MCL 600.5813 applies to a township's claim to obtain injunctive relief to abate a public nuisance. However, a different issue arises when a private party asserts a public nuisance claim since an individual must assert special damages distinct from the injury that the public in general suffered." The "three-year limitations period in MCL 600.5805(10) applies to a private individual's public nuisance claim because the individual must show a distinct injury, and MCL 600.5805(10) provides the time limitation for initiating a claim related to injury to a person or property." Thus, plaintiff's claim failed.


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