257 N.E. 2d 870 (N.Y. 1970).
Defendant operated a cement plant near Albany. Dust, smoke, and vibration from the plant’s operations led plaintiffs, neighboring property owners, to bring a nuisance action seeking damages and to enjoin defendant’s operations.
The court found that Atlantic Cement had indeed created a nuisance and noted that injunctive relief was generally available upon such a finding. However, the court refused to enjoin the operation of the cement factory, as requested by the plaintiffs.
The court balanced the harm against the utility of the cement plant and found that investment in the plant ($45,000,000), its 300 jobs, and its overall economic benefit to the community outweighed the relatively small economic harm to plaintiff ($185,000). The court rejected the alternative of granting the injunction conditioned on defendant’s implementation of pollution abatement measures because no such technology was in the offering and the court was reluctant to give plaintiffs so much bargaining power in settlement negotiations.
Instead, the court granted the injunction unless defendant paid plaintiffs’ permanent damages — which in effect denied injunctive relief.
Effectively, the court in Boomer refused to allow the plaintiffs – owners of infringed property – to seek exorbitant damages from and thereby inflict disproportionate harm on Atlantic Cement. If the court had granted an injunction, the local property owners would be able to hold up Atlantic Cement, seeking payment commensurate with the substantial cost of Atlantic Cement relocating its operation. Instead, the court determined the extent that the property values were reduced by the nuisance and effectively awarded damages in that amount.