Babb v. Lee County LandfillAnnotate this Case
Five questions of South Carolina law were certified to the State Supreme Court by the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina: (1) when a plaintiff seeks recovery for a temporary trespass or nuisance, are the damages limited to the lost rental value of the property?; (2) does South Carolina law recognize a cause of action for trespass solely from invisible odors rather than a physical invasion such as dust or water?; (3) is the maximum amount of compensatory damages a plaintiff can receive in any trespass or nuisance action (temporary or permanent) the full market value of the plaintiffs' property where no claim for restoration or cleanup costs has been alleged?; (4) when a plaintiff contends that offensive odors have migrated from a neighbor's property onto the plaintiff's property, may the plaintiff maintain an independent cause of action for negligence or is the plaintiff limited to remedies under trespass and nuisance?; and (5) if an independent cause of action for negligence exists under South Carolina law when a plaintiff contends that offensive odors have migrated from a neighbor's property onto the plaintiff's property, does the standard of care for a landfill operator and breach thereof need to be established through expert testimony? The South Carolina Supreme Court answered: (1) damages recoverable for a temporary trespass or nuisance claim are limited to the lost rental value of the property; (2) a trespass exists only when an intrusion is made by a physical, tangible thing; (3) the damages recoverable for a permanent trespass or nuisance claim are limited to the full market value of the property; (4) a negligence claim based on offensive odors is possible, but that such a claim would have to satisfy all the elements of negligence like any other negligence claim; and (5) the Court was unable to make a definitive determination as to whether establishing the standard of care of a landfill operator in regards to offensive odors required expert testimony, but offered guidelines for making such a determination.