Folmar Mercantile Co. v. Town of Luverne, 4 Div. 770

CourtSupreme Court of Alabama
Writing for the CourtMcCLELLAN, J. SOMERVILLE, J. MAYFIELD, J. SAYRE, J.
Citation203 Ala. 363,83 So. 107
PartiesFOLMAR MERCANTILE CO. v. TOWN OF LUVERNE.
Docket Number4 Div. 770
Decision Date30 June 1919

83 So. 107

203 Ala. 363

FOLMAR MERCANTILE CO.
v.
TOWN OF LUVERNE.

4 Div. 770

Supreme Court of Alabama

June 30, 1919


Rehearing Denied Oct. 23, 1919

Appeal from Circuit Court, Crenshaw County; A.E. Gamble, Judge.

Bill by the Folmar Mercantile Company against the Town of Luverne, to abate a public nuisance. From a decree for respondent complainant appeals. Affirmed.

Anderson, C.J., and McClellan and Thomas, JJ., dissenting in part.

A.A. Evans, W.A. Gunter, and Arthur B. Chilton, all of Montgomery, for appellant.

Frank B. Bricken, of Luverne, for appellee.

McCLELLAN, J.

The appellant filed this bill against the town of Luverne and others, seeking to abate public nuisances created by buildings erected in two streets of that municipality. These public ways are described in the record as "Le Grande avenue" and "Seventh street," respectively. The former runs north and south, and the latter east and west. Le Grande avenue either attinges or intersects Sixth and Seventh streets, the latter street being 80 feet in width. Complainant's lot, with a small building thereon, abuts the south side of Seventh street, opposite the point where, on the north side of Seventh street, Le Grande avenue either attinges or intersects the north line of Seventh street.

In the answer of the respondents (third paragraph) it is admitted that Le Grande avenue "was dedicated as a street by the Luverne Land Company, the owner of the freehold at the time of the survey and plat of said town of Luverne, Ala.," and that the same is 80 feet in width. That there was an efficient, perfected dedication of these ways to the public use, vesting, so far as this record shows, an easement only in the public (28 Cyc. pp. 845, 846) through an appropriate, recorded platting of the area and the subsequent sale of one or more lots with reference to the plat, as well as the assumption of dominion over Le Grande avenue, as a public street, by the town authorities in erecting the structures in it, is beyond question. Roberts v. Matthews, 137 Ala. 523, 528, 34 So. 624, 97 Am.St.Rep. 56; Moragne v. Gadsden, 170 Ala. 124, 54 So. 518, among others. If, however, the dedication to public use was not effective, the right of the reversioners, the owners of the fee, to recover the thus appropriated area would present inquiries and the application of principles not at this time pertinent. It is clear from the record that the structures put in Le Grande avenue by the municipal authorities, though they are of a purely public nature, as well as the shed erected within the lines of Seventh street by the Crenshaw County Gin Company under the license of the municipality, are obstructions in these effectually dedicated public ways, and therefore constitute public nuisances; and this is true whether the obstructions only partially interfere with the commodious use of both these streets, the public right to their unimpeded use being coextensive with the entire surface thereof. State v. Mobile, 5 Port. 279, 30 Am.Dec. 564; 4 Notes on Am.Dec. 1214-1216, annotating our case of State v. Mobile; First Nat. Bank v. Tyson, 133 Ala. 459, 472, 473, 32 So. 144, 59 L.R.A. 399, 91 Am.St.Rep. 46; Costello's Case, 108 Ala. 45, 18 So. 820, 35 L.R.A. 303; 28 Cyc. 853, 854; Joyce on Nuisances, § 214; City of Troy v. Watkins, 78 So. 50; Greil v. Stollenwerck, 78 So. 79; Hausman v. Brown, 77 So. 993, 994, 995. The excavations and obstructions made and erected in these public ways were and are inconsistent with the use [83 So. 108] of them as highways, to which purpose alone they were dedicated. Author, supra. These obstructions and encroachments upon these highways are permanent in their very nature. Being permanent in their very nature, and the public nuisance created by them being conclusively established, if not in legal effect admitted, the only open question is whether or not this complainant, who invokes the power of the court of equity to abate these public nuisances, suffers because thereof such a special peculiar injury, in respect to his property, as would authorize his appeal to the injunctive power of the court of equity to abate them. Duy v. Ala. Western R.R. Co., 175 Ala. 162, 174, 177, 57 So. 724, Ann.Cas.1914C, 1119; City of Troy v. Watkins, supra; Greil v. Stollenwerck, supra; Hausman v. Brown, supra--among others readily accessible.

For more than three-quarters of a century it has been regarded as the settled doctrine of this jurisdiction that an existing public nuisance created by the obstruction of or encroachment upon a public street will be abated, or a threatened nuisance of that character prevented, through the power of a court of equity to issue injunctive process at the suit of a complaining property owner who is thereby damaged in his property rights different in kind and degree from the damages suffered by the public generally. Bank v. Tyson, 133 Ala. 459, 32 So. 144, 59 L.R.A. 399, 91 Am.St.Rep. 46; Bank v. Tyson (second appeal) 144 Ala. 457, 39 So. 560, among numerous other of our decisions cited in them. So far from conditioning or qualifying the absolute right to injunctive process, under the circumstances stated, to abate or to prevent this character of public nuisance upon the weighing or balancing of the relative convenience or loss of the parties if the injunction is issued or denied, this court has long since deliberately declared, even on hearing for the temporary writ, that the relative prejudice between the parties resulting from the granting or the refusal to grant the writ was "wholly immaterial" (Bank v. Tyson, 133 Ala. 475, 32 So. 149, 59 L.R.A. 399, 91 Am.St.Rep. 46); and in this case on second appeal (144 Ala. 468, 39 So. 561) that sound view was further emphasized in these words:

"And the fact that no actual damages can be proved, so that in an action at law the jury could award nominal damages only often furnishes the very best reason why a court of equity should interfere in cases where the nuisance is a continuous one." (Italics supplied.)

One reason, among others, for this preservative, conservative doctrine, which refutes recourse to a comparison of results to accrue from abating or preventing a public nuisance of this character, is that the creator of a public nuisance of this type whether the creator is a person, corporation, or municipal body--is an offender against the laws; and to extend to an offender the consideration that would institute a pecuniary comparison from which to deduce relative prejudice or benefit between the parties to result from granting or denying injunctive process to abate or to prevent a public nuisance would reward, not condemn, the offender, to the prejudice of the property owner who is specially, peculiarly damaged by the offender's act--in proportion as he made or would make outlay to effect the creation of the public nuisance. Our laws contemplate no such invidious discriminations or comparisons, certainly not with the view to determining whether vested rights are to be protected or vindicated in the courts against unlawful invasions. The suggestion that the public may have an interest to be considered and conserved by refusing, at the suit of a specially damaged property owner, an injunction to abate a permanent, continuous public nuisance is based upon a logical impossibility--in fact as well as in terms--for a conclusively shown public nuisance of this character is such because it offends the public right to the unimpeded use of the whole public highway. To say that the public has an interest opposed to or to be weighed against a property owner's complete relief, in one proceeding in equity, from the peculiarly, specially damnifying consequences immediately resulting from a public nuisance involves the affirmation, obviously incongruous, that the public may have an interest, worthy to be considered and protected, that is palpably opposed to public law. Of course, the public, no more than an individual, cannot have an interest or right opposed to the law. Indeed, a complaining property owner, who is peculiarly damaged by a public nuisance of this character, is asserting the public right against a wrong to the public; and a denial of the repeatedly approved remedy by injunction to abate a public nuisance cannot be predicated of a theory that would introduce this palpable contradiction: That out of such a public wrong, such a public offense, a right or equity may accrue to the public to prevent the abatement, the removal of the very obstacle, in the public highway, that constitutes the public wrong, the public nuisance. It is because no right can be predicated of such a public wrong that neither rules of prescription nor statutes of limitations are available to preserve, against injunctive process, the offending status in a public highway. Reed v. City of Birmingham, 92 Ala. 339, 348, 349, 9 So. 961; Stouts Mountain Co. v. Ballard, 195 Ala. 283, 287, 70 So. 172.

Allied with the like idea of the sanctity and permanency of the public right in public highways, effectually dedicated to public use, it has been often held in this court that the failure, omission, or refusal of public authorities to open, use, or repair a public highway for however long will not affect or prejudice the public right therein. Smith v. Opelika, 165 Ala. 630, [83 So. 109] Rudolph v. City of Birmingham, 188 Ala. 620, 632, 65 So. 1006.

It is thought by some that individual observations made by Justice Turner in Attorney General ex rel., etc., v. Sheffield Gas Consumers' Company, 3 De G.M. & G. *304, *319, 19 Eng. Ruling Cases, 273, 277, justify a conclusion affected with the consideration that the public may have an interest or benefit in the continuance of a public nuisance that may qualify the right of a specially damaged property owner to injunctive process to abate or to prevent a public nuisance. A reading of the opinions subsequently delivered in Attorney General v. Cambridge Gas Co.,...

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11 practice notes
  • Kuykendall v. Edmondson, 8 Div. 424.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • October 12, 1922
    ...in writing will not be reviewed. Alabama Power Co. v. Fergusen, 205 Ala. 204, 87 So. 796. See Folmar Mercantile Co. v. Town of Luverne, 203 Ala. 363, 83 So. 107; United States, etc., Co. v. Granger, 172 Ala. 546, 55 So. 244; L. & N. R. R. Co. v. Jenkins, 196 Ala. 136, 72 So. 68. Self-defens......
  • Jordan v. McLeod, 4 Div. 449.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • January 28, 1930
    ...action of complainant under the original bill and that of respondent under his cross-bill. In Folmar Mercantile Co. v. Town of Luverne, 203 Ala. 363, 83 So. 107, 109, it is declared from Judge Stone's opinion: McBryde v. Sayre, 86 Ala. 458, 462, 5 So. 791, 792, 3 L. R. A. 861, the relief so......
  • Ala. Bd. of Examiners in Psychology v. Hamilton, 2120032.
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Civil Appeals
    • September 27, 2013
    ...such as the rule of repose, are not available to bar the state from correcting that wrong. See Folmar Mercantile Co. v. Town of Luverne, 203 Ala. 363, 364, 83 So. 107, 108 (1919) ( “It is because no right can be predicated of such a public wrong that neither rules of prescription nor statut......
  • Ala. Bd. of Examiners in Psychology v. Hamilton, 2120032
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Civil Appeals
    • September 27, 2013
    ...such as the rule of repose, are not available to bar the state from correcting that wrong. See Folmar Mercantile Co. v. Town of Luverne, 203 Ala. 363, 364, 83 So. 107, 108 (1919) ("It is because no right can be predicated of such a public wrong that neither rules of prescription norPage 24s......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
11 cases
  • Kuykendall v. Edmondson, 8 Div. 424.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • October 12, 1922
    ...in writing will not be reviewed. Alabama Power Co. v. Fergusen, 205 Ala. 204, 87 So. 796. See Folmar Mercantile Co. v. Town of Luverne, 203 Ala. 363, 83 So. 107; United States, etc., Co. v. Granger, 172 Ala. 546, 55 So. 244; L. & N. R. R. Co. v. Jenkins, 196 Ala. 136, 72 So. 68. Self-defens......
  • Jordan v. McLeod, 4 Div. 449.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • January 28, 1930
    ...action of complainant under the original bill and that of respondent under his cross-bill. In Folmar Mercantile Co. v. Town of Luverne, 203 Ala. 363, 83 So. 107, 109, it is declared from Judge Stone's opinion: McBryde v. Sayre, 86 Ala. 458, 462, 5 So. 791, 792, 3 L. R. A. 861, the relief so......
  • Ala. Bd. of Examiners in Psychology v. Hamilton, 2120032.
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Civil Appeals
    • September 27, 2013
    ...such as the rule of repose, are not available to bar the state from correcting that wrong. See Folmar Mercantile Co. v. Town of Luverne, 203 Ala. 363, 364, 83 So. 107, 108 (1919) ( “It is because no right can be predicated of such a public wrong that neither rules of prescription nor statut......
  • Ala. Bd. of Examiners in Psychology v. Hamilton, 2120032
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Civil Appeals
    • September 27, 2013
    ...such as the rule of repose, are not available to bar the state from correcting that wrong. See Folmar Mercantile Co. v. Town of Luverne, 203 Ala. 363, 364, 83 So. 107, 108 (1919) ("It is because no right can be predicated of such a public wrong that neither rules of prescription norPage 24s......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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