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Fontainebleau Hotel Corp. v. Forty-Five Twenty-Five

114 So. 2d 357 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1959)

Tags:ย Property

tl;dr: A landowner can use his property in a manner that blocks his neighbor's access to freely flowing air and sunlight, because the free flow of air and sunlight is not a legal right.

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This is an appeal from a temporary injunction that stopped the construction of a fourteen-story addition to the Fontainebleau Hotel. The plaintiff claimed that the construction would interfere with their easements of light and air and violate a building ordinance requiring a 100-foot setback from the ocean. The defendants argued that the plaintiff's claims were barred by laches and estoppel by judgment. The chancellor granted the injunction, stating that no one has the right to use their property to the injury of another. The maxim "sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas" does not mean that one cannot use their property in a way that may cause harm to their neighbor. There is no legal right for a landowner to the free flow of light and air across their neighbor's land, unless there is a contractual or statutory obligation or an easement or uninterrupted use and enjoyment for a period of 20 years. The English doctrine of "ancient lights" has been rejected in the United States, and no American decision has held otherwise. The lower court's decision was upheld.

A useful structure that interferes with light, air, or view over adjoining land does not give rise to a cause of action for damages or an injunction. Adjoining landowners have an equal right to build to the line of their respective tracts and to such a height as desired, in the absence of building restrictions or regulations. The Shadow Ordinance enacted by the City of Miami Beach was held invalid, and there is no basis for the plaintiff to claim an easement for light and air across the defendant's property. The plaintiff has no cause of action for equitable relief based on the violation of the setback ordinance. The order granting a temporary injunction is reversed with directions to dismiss the complaint since the plaintiff has not established a cause of action against the defendants by reason of the structure in question.

IRACIssue, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion

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Facts & Holding

Facts:The two parties are hotel corporations. The plaintiff hotel had...

Holding:The appeals court reversed, holding that the defendant was free...

Fontainebleau Hotel Corp. v. Forty-Five Twenty-Five

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