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Sriracha Factory's Fumes Too Spicy, Lawsuit Claims

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

A Sriracha factory is being sued by a California city where some residents say the fumes and odors from the plant are a nuisance.

Sriracha, also known and loved as "rooster sauce," is produced at the Huy Fong Foods plant in Irwindale, California, but the city's inhabitants apparently can't stand the heat of the plant's fumes. According to the Los Angeles Times, the smell emitted from the Sriracha plant has allegedly caused Irwindale residents to experience "burning eyes, irritated throats, and headaches caused by a powerful, painful odor."

So while Sriracha may be great on BBQ pork vermicelli, is it a nuisance to the city of Irwindale?

Do You Smell What Your Neighbor Is Cooking?

The odor is likely caused by the addition of the famously spicy sauce's chili peppers, which the Times reports are stored and processed in the factory between early September and December.

Irwindale isn't crazy to be filing a lawsuit over allegedly noxious odors. Indeed, property owners have rights under the law of nuisance to enjoy their property without being disturbed by offensive sights, sounds, or smells emitted by their neighbors.

The city's suit alleges that the factory is a public nuisance, and that the health concerns to the citizens is reason enough to "stop production until the smell can be reduced."

While Irwindale's lawyers seem to be arguing that living next to the Sriracha factory is like living in a cloud of pepper spray, other nuisance cases can be more nuanced.

From Piggy Plop to Rooster Sauce

The archetypal nuisance smell case is when a farm emits animal odors (for example, from pig/horse/cow dung) which cause neighbors to be grossed out on their own land. Private nuisance cases ask for the same thing the city of Irwindale is requesting: injunctive relief from the court to stop or at least mitigate the offensive smells.

In either public or private nuisance cases, the interference with neighbors' property has to be substantial and continuous.

The spicy sauce fumes sound substantial enough, but the question is whether the three-month period of chili processing is continuous enough for the court to tell the Sriracha plant to shut down.

In alleged air pollutant cases like this one, courts will try to balance the damage to the factory's business against the harm to Irwindale citizens before granting an order for the Sriracha plant to cease production.

According to the Times, a judge will decide Irwindale and Sriracha's spicy fate on Thursday.

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