Amphitheaters, Inc. v. Portland Meadows – Case Brief Summary (Oregon)

In Amphitheaters, Inc. v. Portland Meadows, 184 Ore. 336, 198 P.2d 847 (Or. 1948), an outdoor drive-in theatre filed a lawsuit against the race track adjacent to its property, alleging claims of trespass and nuisance based on the race track's evening lighting.

The race track's flood lights were generally aimed at the track, but the evidence indicated that the light spilled onto the drive-in theatre's premises. Id. at 850.

In the absence of any binding precedent, the Supreme Court of Oregon reviewed the fundamentals of nuisance jurisprudence:

"No action will lie for a nuisance in respect of damage which, even though substantial, is due solely to the fact that the plaintiff is abnormally sensitive to deleterious influences, or uses his land for some purpose which requires exceptional freedom from any such influences . . . . 'So if I carry on a manufacture or other business which is so sensitive to adverse influences that it suffers damage from smoke, fumes, vibrations, or heat, which would in no way interfere with the ordinary occupation of land, the law of nuisance will not confer upon me any such special and extraordinary protection." Id. at 853 (quoting Salmond On The Law Of Torts 238, 239 (9th ed. 1936)).

The court ultimately held, as a matter of law, "that the loss sustained by the plaintiff by the spilled light which has been reflected onto the highly sensitized moving picture screen from the defendant's property 832 feet distant" is a loss without injury. Id. at 858.