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Courts have long recognized the rights of incumbent property owners against people “coming to the nuisance.” For example, if I run a hog farm in North Carolina, and have done so for decades (without harming anyone), then it is very unlikely I would be responsible for smell or water or air damages if someone decided to locate a new home right on the edge of my property. The reason for this is that it is the least costly way to deal with these Coasean transactions. Why? While the hog farmer might reasonably pay a homeowner a fee for dealing with the smell or better yet, not to move there, there is a nearly inexhaustible amount of people who would be happy to be paid not to set up shop there! So the courts, recognizing this, seem to have adopted a rule that you cannot come to the nuisance and be rewarded. There’s much more to say on this, but here is a really neat application of it today, where the “coming to the nuisance” problem is not working in the incumbent’s favor:

On Tuesday, clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) said it would offer “substantial payment” to MTV’s The Jersey Shore’s cast members to stop wearing the brand on air.


One Response to “Coase and Coming to the Nuisance”

  1. Rod says:

    This post brings out the songwriter in me:

    (To the tune of “The Ballad of the Green Berets”)

    Put silver wings
    On Snookie’s chest;
    Make her one
    Of America’s best.
    One hundred girls will test today [trumpet flourish for extra words] for Jersey Shore,
    But only one
    Has a bra size “A.”

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