In Missouri, a property owner generally has the right to exclusive possession and control of his or her property and the right to devote it to any type of lawful use which satisfies the owner’s interests. That right, however, is not absolute. Nuisance is the unreasonable, unusual or unnatural use of one’s property so that it substantially impairs the right of another to peacefully enjoy his property. The law of nuisance recognizes two conflicting rights: (1) property owners have a right to control their land and use it to benefit their best interests; and (2) the public and neighboring landowners have a right to prevent unreasonable use that substantially impairs the peaceful use and enjoyment of their land.
For a private nuisance to exist, the alleged harm to a landowner must be substantial, involving more than a slight inconvenience or petty annoyance. The harm is determined by the standard of normal persons or property in the particular locality. Courts recognize that the use of property in one locality and under some circumstances may be reasonable, while such use in another locality and under other circumstances would be unreasonable and constitute a nuisance. Accordingly, whether a particular use is or is not a nuisance must be determined from the facts in each case, such as the (1) locality; (2) character of the neighborhood; (3) nature of the use; (4) extent and frequency of the injury; (5) effect upon the enjoyment of life, health and property of those affected; and (6) diminishment of the property value of those affected, and the like. In addition, simply because an area is zoned industrial, business or commercial does not justify the maintenance of a nuisance. Excessive noise is regarded as among the worst class of nuisances, and Missouri has a long list of cases holding that any use of a property producing excessive noise constitutes a nuisance, whether arising from the exercise of a trade or business or from the ordinary or even necessary uses of property.
A nuisance can be either temporary or permanent. The character of the source of injury often distinguishes between a temporary and a permanent nuisance, and this distinction has important consequences. A nuisance is temporary if it is abatable by a reasonable effort or by an order of the court; it is permanent if abatement is impracticable or impossible. A permanent nuisance must result from a permanent construction which is necessarily injurious as installed and not from one which becomes injurious through its use.
For each type of nuisance, different types of damages are recoverable. Damages for a permanent nuisance are measured by the difference between the land’s market value immediately before and after injury, while damages for a temporary nuisance include the decrease in rental or useable value of property during the injury. Damages for a temporary nuisance also include all personal injuries inflicted upon the person occupying the property. This includes other incidents of damage such as loss of comfort and health. For both permanent and temporary nuisances, a court may issue an injunction enjoining (1) the use of the property, or (2) a manner of carrying on a business, if either constitutes a nuisance injuring another or his property. However, Missouri recognizes that an injunction is an extraordinary and harsh remedy and should not be employed where there is an adequate remedy at law.