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COA: Food odors don’t support granting preliminary injunctive relief

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In a dispute over smells from a produce business drifting into neighboring businesses, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed that the manager of the shopping plaza is not entitled to preliminary injunctive relief for cooking foods without proper ventilation.

In The Novogroder Companies, Inc., v. Michael J. Massaro, 45A03-1303-PL-98, Dyer Plaza manager George Novogroder filed a complaint for injunctive relief against Michael J. Massaro, who leased commercial space in the plaza for his business The Produce Depot. The fruit and vegetable market also baked bread and served soup on the premises. Novogroder alleged that the smells created a nuisance and annoyed the neighboring businesses.

Michael Sena, owner of exercise studio Pro Fit; and Christie Gill, owner of Posh Paws, complained to Novogroder about the cooking smells. Novogroder and Massaro discussed installing ventilation but couldn’t agree as to who had the responsibility for finding a contractor.

In addition to seeking to enjoin Massaro from cooking until he added ventilation, Novogroder’s complaint also sought ejectment for breach of contract.

After hearing testimony from Sena, Gill, Novogroder and others, the trial court decided that the smells from The Produce Depot did not unreasonably annoy the neighboring owners and occupants. The judge pointed out that the smells from Massaro’s business paled in comparison to those of dog waste and urine that came from the pet grooming facility.

The appellate judges noted that no witness claimed to have perceived a foul odor coming from the business; the complaints were more that they could smell the food, which could produce nausea during exercise. In addition, the testimony of Novogroder and Massaro shows the actual dispute is more of a contract issue than a nuisance issue: who should bear the primary responsibility for installing ventilation.




 

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