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Can a person sue their neighbor for burning and making them sick?

Kittanning, PA |

Our neighbor has a habit of burning in the middle of the night lately. The smoke filters into our house. My wife is on a breathing machine at night for sleep apnea at night. Ever since our neighbor has started burning, She has developed a nasty cough, and so has our 6 year old son. We all have a history of sinus problems, and this certainly does not help. Can we sue either the neighbor for burning, or the town for allowing it for the expenses of having to go to the doctor and get antibiotics? Can anything be done?

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Attorney answers 2


If the neighbor won't stop after you have asked him nicely, have a local real estate lawyer investigate the nuisance issue.


Report this to the city code enforcement office, as it may be against city codes. If it is, they will investigate, cite and pursue the neighbor. In many jurisdictions, it is considered a nuisance if the smoke enters your property. Find out what the law is in yours. If it is against the law, call the non-emergency number of your police department every time they do it. You can consult with a local lawyer, and he/she can send a cease and desist letter to the neighbor. If that does not work, you can sue them in small claims court for Nuisance and Interference with the Right to Quiet Enjoyment (it has nothing to do with being "quiet").

In some states, small claims court can only award money, it can not issue orders restraining behavior. I don't know about yours. If that is the case in your state, and the money is not what you want, then you'll have to get a lawyer to get the appropriate orders for you from whatever you state's equivalent is to superior court.

Government entities such as the town, have considerable immunity, and it is very hard to sue them.

We do not have an attorney-client relationship. I am not your lawyer. The statements I have made do not constitute legal advice. Any statements I have made are based upon the very limited facts you have presented, and under the premise that you will consult with a local attorney. This is not an attempt to solicit business. This disclaimer is in addition to any disclaimers that this website has made. I am only licensed in California.