Hendricks v. Stalnaker
In Hendricks v. Stalnaker, 181 W.Va. 31, 380 S.E.2d 198 (1989), the defendant dug a water well on his property.
The plaintiff subsequently attempted to develop a septic system on property adjacent to the defendant's land. However, the Department of Health refused to issue a permit to the plaintiff because the septic system was too close to the defendant's water well.
The plaintiff thereafter filed an action alleging that the defendant's well was a private nuisance. A jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff.
The Court reversed, and adopted a standard for bringing a private nuisance cause of action. This standard was set forth in Syllabus Points 1 and 2 of Hendricks as follows:
A private nuisance is a substantial and unreasonable interference with the private use and enjoyment of another's land.
An interference with the private use and enjoyment of another's land is unreasonable when the gravity of the harm outweighs the social value of the activity alleged to cause the harm.
In Hendricks, the Court defined a private nuisance to include "conduct that is intentional and unreasonable, negligent or reckless, or that results in an abnormally dangerous conditions or activities in an inappropriate place." Hendricks, 181 W.Va. at 33-34, 380 S.E.2d 200 .