The cases in the English courts are numerous in which damages at law have been recovered for obstructing lights, and where injunctions have been issued to prevent such obstructions. The law is there well settled, and of long standing. In 1 Levinz's Rep. 122, the case of Palmer v. Fletcher, there is an early and important decision on this subject. This was a case at law. A man built a house on his own lands and then sold the house to one man, and the land adjoining to another, who obstructed the windows of the house by piles of timber. This house had been recently built, yet the action was sustained. The judges differed as to what would have been the result had the man sold the vacant lot first, seeing the building had been recently erected; but all agreed that if a stranger had owned the adjoining lands, he might obstruct the lights of a newly erected building, but not of an ancient building so that he has gained a right in the lights by prescription.

In 1 Comyn's Digest, title, " Action on the Case for a Nuisance," A., the cases are cited in which actions on the case for a nuisance have been allowed. If a man erect a house or mill to the nuisance of another, every occupier afterwards is subject to an action for the nuisance.

In the case of Rosewell v. Pryor, 6 Modern, 116, the question was, whether in a declaration for stopping the plaintiff's lights, it was necessary to state the lights and messuage as being ancient, and it was held not to be necessary. In that case, Holt, Chief Justice, says: "If a man have a vacant piece of ground, and build thereupon, and that house has very good lights, and he lets this house to another, and after he builds upon a contiguous piece of ground, or lets the ground contiguous to another, who builds thereupon to the nuisance of the lights of the first house, the lessee of the first house shall have an action upon the case against such builder, for the first house was granted to him with all the easements and the lights then belonging to it."

This general principle is also stated in 3 Bl. Com. 217, where it is declared to be essential to the maintenance of the action, that the windows be ancient. The English cases are uniform on this subject; and Chancellor Kent, in 3 Kent's Com. 445, declares in gen-eral terms, that "according to the English law, the owner of a house will be restrained by injunction, and he will be liable to an action on the case, if he makes any erections or improvements, so as to obstruct the ancient lights of an adjoining house."

In our own country, too, the same doctrines have been maintained; and I do not perceive that Chancellor Kent, in his Commentaries above referred to, denies anywhere that the same rules of law on this subject apply in this country, except in a note, where he declares that this common-law prescription does not reasonably or equitably apply to buildings on narrow lots in the rapidly growing cities in this country, and upon the ground that such was not the presumed intention of the owners of such lots. From all he says, I infer that he recognizes the general principles before stated as in force in this country, but exempts the case of city lots, from the necessity and reason of the thing, as necessary for their advancement and continued improvement.

The case of Story v. Odin, in 12 Mass. 157, is a very clear and plain decision in our own courts. The property was situated in the town of Boston. The building was purchased of the town in 1795, and stood adjoining other lands of the town, with lights looking out directly upon this vacant land. In 1812, the town sold this vacant lot. and the purchaser built directly adjoining the plaintiff's building, and obstructed his lights. The court decided, that as the purchaser of the first building bought without reserving to the grantors any right to build on the adjoining ground so as to interfere with his lights, they could not, nor could their grantees, build so as to interfere with this right. * * *

From a careful examination of the cases, and the principles on which they are decided, I have come to the conclusion that the same rules which have been established in the English courts, and in other states of the union, upon this subject, apply with the same force to us, and that there is nothing in our condition which can prevent their wholesome application; that, as a general rule, in a case of ancient lights, where they have existed for upwards of twenty years undisturbed, the owner of the adjoining lot has no right to obstruct those lights, and particularly so, if the adjoining lot was owned by the man who built the house at the time, and subsequently sold by him; and that, whether this court will interfere by injunction, or leave the party to establish his right at law, must depend on the particular circumstances of each case. * * *

I am very clear the injunction ought not to be dissolved, and that upon all the authorities cited. The case is a very strong one. The builder of this house owned both lots at the time of erecting the building. The lights are ancient, having continued unmolested for thirty-five years. Lot No. 10, on which the house stands, passed out of the hands of the heirs at law of the original owner first; and there is no pressing necessity for this interference with the established rights of the complainants.

Hubbard V. Town

33 Vermont, 295. - 1860.

Pierpoint, J. - This action is brought to recover the damage claimed to have been sustained by the plaintiff in consequence of the defendant's obstructing his lights. It appears from the case that the building, which has been owned and occupied by the plaintiff and his tenants for more than twenty-five years prior to the acts complained of, stands upon the line between his premises and the premises of the defendant, and that the defendant has owned and occupied his premises during the aforesaid period; that the windows in the plaintiff's building opened out toward the premises of the defendant, admitting light from that direction, and that they have so remained without obstruction and without question on the part of the defendant, for the period of twenty-five years or more; that in 1859 the defendant erected a building on his own premises immediately adjoining that of the plaintiff, so as to exclude the light from two of the plaintiff's windows.