U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont Allows a Private Nuisance Claim Against Operational Wind Project

Vermont’s federal district court, in Brouha v. Vermont Wind, LLC, denied a motion to dismiss a landowner’s private nuisance claim against the owners of the Sheffield Wind Project, an operating wind project holding a Certificate of Public Good from the Public Service Board (“PSB”).

As discussed by the Court, Mr. Brouha’s complaint describes the noise from the project’s turbines as “excessively loud” and continuing “unabated for long periods of time during both day and night, including for periods of multiple days at a time.” He alleges that he “experiences extreme and frequent stress and irritability, and the inability to enjoy” activities including working outside, gardening, eating outside, walking, and hiking. Mr. Brouha identifies his property as about one mile from the project, and his property line as about 1,100 feet from the project.

In denying the motion to dismiss filed by the project’s owners, Judge Geoffrey W. Crawford concludes that that PSB did not consider whether the project created excessive noise impacting Mr. Brouha’s use and enjoyment of his property, the claim raised by Mr. Brouha’s complaint. Instead, the Court explains, the PSB’s review of the aesthetic impact of the project examined impact on the community and used a “communal cost-benefit standard” that incorporated the “overall societal benefits” of the project. Because the PSB’s review did not include and rule on Mr. Brouha’s claim, as the Court concludes, his claim can proceed.

A copy of Judge Crawford’s complete decision can be found here: http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/vermont/vtdce/5:2014cv00063/24467/18/ For additional information about this case or PSB matters in general please contact Diane Sherman at Stitzel, Page & Fletcher, P.C.