A paper plant is situated next to a residential neighborhood. The manufacturing process generates foul odors that drift toward the neighborhood, regularly enveloping the residents’ homes. The odors are sickening. The residents complain to the company. The company denies that it is the source of the fumes. The residents call the local Board of Health. They call the Department of Environmental Protection. These agencies investigate. The company is forced to admit that it is the source of the odors, and promises to address the problem. But the situation does not improve. The residents continue to complain. The company assures them that it is working diligently to fix the problem. Years go by, and the problem remains. The residents continue to call the agencies, reporting that the odors persist. The agencies respond that they are working with the company, and that improvements are anticipated. Years go by. Still, the problem remains.

Finally, the residents call a private Massachusetts environmental law attorney. The attorney meets with them and explains that the company’s actions constitute a legal nuisance, for which they have a right to sue. The attorney explains that, if they do sue, they can demand both that the pollution be stopped, and that they be compensated for their loss of use and enjoyment of their property in the meantime. The residents retain the attorney. The attorney is able to negotiate a settlement in which the residents are compensated, and the company makes a commitment to invest in the necessary air pollution control measures.