Rideout v. Knox

CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
Writing for the CourtHOLMES
Citation148 Mass. 368,19 N.E. 390
Decision Date04 January 1889
PartiesRIDEOUT v. KNOX et ux.

148 Mass. 368
19 N.E. 390

RIDEOUT
v.
KNOX et ux.

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Essex.

January 4, 1889.


[19 N.E. 391]

Exceptions from [148 Mass. 369]superior court, Essex county; JOHN LATHROP, Judge.

Action of tort under St.Mass.1887, c. 348, by Leon Rideout against David Knox and Elizabeth E. Knox, his wife. There was evidence that Elizabeth E. Knox, when requested by plaintiff to remove the structure complained of, which was on her land, replied that she would have nothing to say about it, as she had left it all to her husband. The court refused defendants' second request to charge “that the structure must be erected for the sole purpose of annoyance. Even if a motive to annoy existed, if it was inferior to a motive of use or adornment of the defendants' estate, and if there was a bona fide use of the structure, beneficial to the defendants, the plaintiff cannot recover.” After instructing that the plaintiff must prove that the structure was maliciously maintained for the purpose of annoying plaintiff, and that “annoying” meant “injuring” the plaintiff, either in his comfort or the enjoyment of his estate, the court charged that “the defendants say the structure was not put up for any such purpose; that it was put up for a perfectly legitimate purpose, namely, as a trellis on which to train vines. If you believe that that was the sole purpose for which the structure was put up, then the plaintiff has not made out his case. But if the defendants had in mind in maintaining the structure, or if it was their intention in maintaining it, not only to use it for the purpose of training vines, but also for the purpose of injuring the plaintiff, either in his comfort or in the enjoyment of his estate, then the plaintiff has made out that part of his case.” Judgment for plaintiff, and defendants excepted.

St.Mass.1887, c. 348, is as follows: “Section 1. Any fence, or other structure in the nature of a fence, unnecessarily exceeding six feet in height, maliciously erected or maintained for the purpose of annoying the owners or occupants of adjoining property, shall be deemed a private nuisance. Sec. 2. Any such owner or occupant, injured either in his comfort or the enjoyment of his estate by such nuisance, may have an action of tort for the damage sustained thereby, and the provisions of chapter one hundred and eighty of the Public Statutes, concerning actions for private nuisances, shall be applicable thereto.”

148 Mass. 371]W.H. Niles and G.E. Carr, for plaintiff.

J.R. Baldwin, for defendants.


HOLMES, J.

This is an action of tort under St.1887, c. 348. The plaintiff has had a verdict for nominal damages, and the first question raised by the bill of exceptions is the constitutionality of the statute. Another question more or less connected with the former is whether the structure, in order to bring it within the act, must be erected or maintained for the purpose of annoyance as the dominant motive, or whether it is [148 Mass. 372]enough if that purpose existed, although subordinate to a bona fide use for legitimate purposes.

At common law, a man has a right to build a fence on his own land as high as he pleases, however much it may obstruct his neighbor's light and air. And the limit up to which a man may impair his neighbor's enjoyment of his estate by the mode of using his own is fixed by external standards only. Walker v. Cronin, 107 Mass. 555, 564; Chatfield v. Wilson, 28 Vt. 49;Phelps v. Nowlen, 72 N.Y. 39;Frazier v. Brown, 12 Ohio St. 294; MARTIN B., in Rawstron v. Taylor, 11 Exch. 369, 378, 384. See Benjamin v....

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83 practice notes
  • Pennsylvania Coal Co v. Mahon, No. 549
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • December 11, 1922
    ...and sale and in all that happens within the commonwealth. Some existing rights may be modified even in such a case. Rideout v. Knox, 148 Mass. 368, 19 N. E. 390, 2 L. R. A. 81, 12 Am. St. Rep. 560. But usually in ordinary private affairs the public interest does not warrant much of this kin......
  • Hopkins v. City Of Richmond, (No. 1.)
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • September 9, 1915
    ..."In Camfield v. United States, 167 U. S. 518, 17 Sup. Ct. 864, 42 L. Ed. 260, the court cited with approval the case of Rideout v. Knox, 148 Mass. 368, 19 N. E. 390, 2 L. R. A. 81, 12 Am. St. Rep. 560, which had under review a Massachusetts statute, declaring that any fence 'unnecessarily e......
  • Smith v. New England Aircraft Co.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • March 4, 1930
    ...v. Inspector of Buildings of Wellesley, 262 Mass. 404, 160 N. E. 285; prohibition of fences above a limited height, Rideout v. Knox, 148 Mass. 368, 19 N. E. 390,2 L. R. A. 81, 12 Am. St. Rep. 560; regulation of height of buildings, Welch v. Swasey, 193 Mass. 364, 79 N. E. 745,23 L. R. A. (N......
  • State v. Armour & Co.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of North Dakota
    • February 17, 1914
    ...under the circumstances is well settled. Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U. S. 537, 16 Sup. Ct. 1138, 41 L. Ed. 256;Rideout v. Knox, 148 Mass. 368, 19 N. E. 390, 2 L. R. A. 81, 12 Am. St. Rep. 560. The highest court in our land in the recent case of Lochner v. State of New York, 198 U. S. 45, 25 Su......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
84 cases
  • Pennsylvania Coal Co v. Mahon, No. 549
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • December 11, 1922
    ...and sale and in all that happens within the commonwealth. Some existing rights may be modified even in such a case. Rideout v. Knox, 148 Mass. 368, 19 N. E. 390, 2 L. R. A. 81, 12 Am. St. Rep. 560. But usually in ordinary private affairs the public interest does not warrant much of this kin......
  • Hopkins v. City Of Richmond, (No. 1.)
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • September 9, 1915
    ...Camfield v. United States, 167 U. S. 518, 17 Sup. Ct. 864, 42 L. Ed. 260, the court cited with approval the case of Rideout v. Knox, 148 Mass. 368, 19 N. E. 390, 2 L. R. A. 81, 12 Am. St. Rep. 560, which had under review a Massachusetts statute, declaring that any fence 'unnecessarily excee......
  • Smith v. New England Aircraft Co.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • March 4, 1930
    ...v. Inspector of Buildings of Wellesley, 262 Mass. 404, 160 N. E. 285; prohibition of fences above a limited height, Rideout v. Knox, 148 Mass. 368, 19 N. E. 390,2 L. R. A. 81, 12 Am. St. Rep. 560; regulation of height of buildings, Welch v. Swasey, 193 Mass. 364, 79 N. E. 745,23 L. R. A. (N......
  • State v. Armour & Co.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of North Dakota
    • February 17, 1914
    ...under the circumstances is well settled. Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U. S. 537, 16 Sup. Ct. 1138, 41 L. Ed. 256;Rideout v. Knox, 148 Mass. 368, 19 N. E. 390, 2 L. R. A. 81, 12 Am. St. Rep. 560. The highest court in our land in the recent case of Lochner v. State of New York, 198 U. S. 45, 25 Su......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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