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REAL ESTATE 78: Nuisance action filed against neighbor for drainage issue.

This dispute between neighbors deals with drainage. Both sides complain that surface water pools on their land and that the opposing party is responsible.

Nuisance Action

The T Family own a farm next to B’s home. In approximately 1970, drainage swales were installed to allow water flowing on the farm property to drain into a ditch. In 2015, B built a garage and according to the T Family, filled in a swale. Water began to back up onto the T Family’ farmland. Two years later, the T Family filed this nuisance action.

B counterclaimed, asserting that the T Family’ removal of a stand of trees caused water from the farm to flow onto his property, creating a nuisance.


After a three-day trial, the jury found that B had created a condition on his property that interfered with the T Family’s ability to use and enjoy their property. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the T Family on their claim for nuisance.  The jury returned a verdict of no cause of action on B’s counterclaim. The trial court was then obligated to fashion an appropriate remedy to abate the nuisance.


After considering competing proposals to abate the nuisance, the trial court adopted the recommendations of the T Family’s expert. The trial court’s order directed B to within 90 days, either install a swale, restore his back yard to pre-construction conditions, and plug or remove his drain tiles or pay to have the work done. The swale must be dug to the size and grade recommended by [the T Family’s expert.

After hearing from experts, the trial court crafted a remedy that would abate the nuisance while minimizing B’s costs and preserving his garage. The court did not require him to build a pond in violation of the township’s zoning ordinance, and defense counsel acknowledged that the township would permit B to comply with the court’s order.

Assistance with Neighbor Disputes

If you are facing a residential real estate dispute, seek the advice of an experienced and skilled real estate litigation attorney. When the parties are unable to reach an agreement, Aldrich Legal Services can help resolve disputes in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.

Contact Aldrich Legal Services

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