Introduction to Torts
Professor Michael Haggard
John Anderson produces rattlesnake anti-venom in his single family home located in a suburban neighborhood. Anderson has approximately 50 – 75 rattlesnakes in his home. Anderson produces and sells the rattlesnake anti-venom to medical supply companies who then sell the snake anti-venom to hospitals to treat victims of rattlesnake bites. Two children in the past six months have been bitten by rattlesnakes. Parents complained to Anderson, but he simply shrugged off each incident, stating that there was no proof that his rattlesnakes were responsible. There are no other producers of rattlesnake anti-venom in the neighborhood. The neighborhood is located in the southwest, where rattlesnakes are common. A town ordinance prohibits the keeping of wildlife, including rattlesnakes, within city limits.
My first concern with the above scenario is that it does not state that the local authorities were notified concerning each incident of children being bit. If the parents were to take this matter to court, they would need proof of these incidents actually occurring. Also, as officers often give in their reports, the opinion of the officer may help the neighbors in proving that Mr. Anderson’s snakes are actually a nuisance. Proving that the snakes that bit the kids are Mr. Anderson’s is also going to be a challenge. This may be another aspect in which making reports may help with, as local authorities may take pictures, etc. of the “evidence”. However, if a town ordinance is in place that prohibits the keeping of wildlife within city limits, the neighbors should be able to report him for a violation of that ordinance and have the rattlesnakes removed as they wish. This scenario poses both a private nuisance and a public nuisance. From the public nuisance perspective, the...