Not My Wild Alligators


On May 15, the Mississippi Supreme Court, in Christmas v. Exxon Mobil Corporation, ruled that Exxon was entitled to summary judgment in a case where its neighbors complained that the property (formerly operated as a waste disposal site) was home to many large alligators, making their lives untenable and decreasing the value of their property. The record indicated that the alligators had been imported onto the site from Louisiana by the previous owner. After noting that there was no evidence that Exxon brought the alligators to its property or that it was restraining the alligators in any way, the Court held that the presence of wild alligators “not reduced to possession, but which exist in a state of nature” cannot constitute a private nuisance for which a land owner can be held liable and, therefore, Exxon was not responsible for these wild alligators. At least two other states have concluded that private persons cannot be held liable for the acts of wild animals on their property that are not reduced to possession.

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