Could your business be considered a ‘public nuisance’? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Could your business be considered a ‘public nuisance’?

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A number of states and localities are expanding the definition of “public nuisance,” putting many more small businesses at risk.

Public-nuisance laws vary widely among states, cities and counties. They deal with everything from overgrown vegetation to public intoxication, but typically with any substantial and unreasonable interference with a public right, such as health, safety or peace.

The problem: The standards can be vague and are vulnerable to stretching by plaintiffs’ lawyers.

Say you own a machine shop. You could be sued for making too much noise even though you’re within legal limits. Similarly, a restaurant could be handed a public-nuisance complaint if patrons dining in outdoor seating grow too loud and bother the neighbors, or if crumbs left unswept draw insects.

Bottom line: Be aware that nuisance laws could essentially be applied to practically anything anybody finds undesirable.

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