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Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Aug 20, 2013

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys 1:

Michael H. Meares, Maryville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Velda J. Shore.

Attorneys 2:

John T. Johnson, Jr., Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Maple Lane Farms, LLC, Robert A. Schmidt d/b/a Maple Lane Farms, and Al Schmidt d/b/a Maple Lane Farms.

Julie P. Bowling and Edward K. Lancaster, Columbia, Tennessee, for the amicus curiae, Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation, Tennessee Agritourism Association, Tennessee Fruit and Vegetable Association, Tennessee Soybean Association, Tennessee Farm Winegrowers Alliance, and Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association.

Judge(s): KOCH

This appeal involves a dispute over the noise from amplified music concerts being conducted on farm land in rural Blount County. After the business owners who hosted the concerts defied the county zoning authority’s order limiting the concerts to one per year, a neighboring property owner filed suit in the Chancery Court for Blount County seeking to abate the concerts as a common-law nuisance and to enforce the decision of the county board of zoning appeals. The trial court granted the defendants’ motion for an involuntary dismissal at the close of the plaintiff’s proof, finding that the Tennessee Right to Farm Act, Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 43-26-101 to -104 (2007), precluded nuisance liability and that the concerts were exempted from the local land use regulations because they qualified as “agriculture.” The Court of Appeals affirmed. Shore v. Maple Lane Farms, LLC, No. E2011-00158-COA-R3- CV, 2012 WL 1245606 (Tenn. Ct. App. Apr. 11, 2012). We granted the plaintiff homeowner permission to appeal. We hold that the trial court erred by granting the motion to dismiss because the plaintiff homeowner presented a prima facie case of common-law nuisance and because the concerts are not “agriculture” for the purpose of the zoning laws.