Anhydrous ammonia trespasses into neighbor's home, suit says

Steve Gonzalez Jun. 26, 2008, 8:55am

A dispute between neighbors made its way to the Madison County Courthouse on June 20, when Mark Kistner of 809 Glen Crossing Road in Glen Carbon filed suit against John Stille of 814 Glen Crossing Road alleging Stille negligently allowed anhydrous ammonia to enter his home on April 22, 2007.

Represented by Penni Livingston of Fairview Heights, Kistner claims Stille uses land at 814 Glen Crossing Road to raise crops and on the day in question applied anhydrous ammonia to his field.

Kistner claims Stille made a turn in front of his house with the tractor he was using and while making the turn he proceeded to raise the anhydrous ammonia applicator allowing the release of a significant quantity of anhydrous ammonia.

"The failure to stop or reduce the flow of anhydrous ammonia while turning in front of the Plaintiff's house on or about April 22, 2007, caused the release of a large amount of anhydrous ammonia into the surrounding atmosphere," the complaint states.

Kistner claims the release of anhydrous ammonia was done in such a way that it entered his property.

According to Kistner, anhydrous ammonia is toxic, caustic and listed as a highly hazardous substance that is regulated by several state and federal agencies.

He claims Illinois law requires any person that handles, transfers or otherwise works with anhydrous ammonia to be trained to understand the properties of ammonia and to be competent in safe operating practices.

"The Defendant was required to apply anhydrous ammonia in a manner that is safe to the public," the complaint states.

Kistner claims Stille failed to exercise the standard of care that a reasonably prudent person with experience and training in the application of anhydrous ammonia would have exercised in a similar situation.

"The Defendant knew or should have known that failing to stop the flow of anhydrous ammonia during the turnaround of the tractor would cause anhydrous ammonia to be released into the air and onto the Plaintiff's property," the complaint states.

According to Kistner, the release of the anhydrous ammonia caused his physicians to diagnose him with reactive airway disease, chronic bronchitis, and pneumonitis from a chemical exposure to the anhydrous ammonia Stille released.

He claims he has been damaged by suffering from eye irritation, throat irritation, shortness of breath which required him to take time off work, pay large sums of money in medical and pharmaceutical bills and suffer property damage.

Kistner also alleges Stille trespassed on his property when he did not have permission or the right to cause any material to be released into the air and carried onto his property by the wind.

He also claims that the release of the anhydrous ammonia unreasonably interfered with his use and quiet enjoyment of his property.

"The law of private nuisance rests upon the concept embodied in the ancient legal maxim 'sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedes' which translates into every person should use his own property as not to injure that of another," the complaint states.

Kistner is seeking damages in excess of $200,000 for the injuries he allegedly received.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder.

08 L 539

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