Two hotels, the Fontainebleau and the Eden Roc, are right next to each other on the beach. The Fontainebleau wish to modify their hotel by making it taller; however it would block the sun after 2:00 PM on the Eden Roc's property. The Eden Roc sought an injunction stating this addition would render the beach unfit for the enjoyment of its guests and that the choice to build this extension on the north side of the Fontainebleau rather than the south side was motivated by malice. A temporary injunction was granted in the lower court which the Fontainebleau appealed.
- To what extent does the maxim sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas apply?
- Do you have a legal right to the air and sunlight on your property?
- Does the (alleged) malicious intent of Fontainebleau's actions matter?
The court holds that there is no legal right to air and sunlight, and further that when a structure serves a useful and beneficial purpose it does not give rise to an action under nuisance for damages or injunction under the maxim quoted above, even if it causes injury to the neighbour. He states that the addition to the Fontainebleau meets these criteria, and further that the intentions of Fontainebleau are irrelevant in this case.
The court states that it is their duty to interpret the laws as they are, and not to enact new laws. If the construction of such additions are against the public interest, then the legislature should create a new statute/zoning regulation addressing the issue.
- A landowner does not have a legal right to the free flow of light and air across the adjoining land of his neighbor.