After a trial on remand from a prior reversal, this decision again reverses a judgment in plaintiff’s favor in a suit alleging that stray voltage from defendant’s electrical substation adjacent to plaintiff’s property constituted a private nuisance. The court refuses to hold, as a matter of law, that the public benefit of electricity outweighs the harm (mostly fear of future injury) caused by the unavoidable stray voltage. However, the court reverses because the trial court erred in admitting irrelevant evidence of incidents involving stray voltage on the same property before plaintiff acquired it and on adjoining property. A private nuisance claim involves only a question of harm to the plaintiff, not others. The error was prejudicial as plaintiff emphasized that evidence both during an examination of witnesses and in closing argument, and the jury split 9-3 on key special verdicts.
California Court of Appeals, Second District, Division 4 (Willhite, Acting P.J.); March 26, 2018; 230 Cal. Rptr. 3d 595