Sriracha Hot Sauce Declared a Nuisance

file000604431874Jalapeño, serrano, cayenne, and tabasco are different peppers that give zest to meals and sauces. One type of pepper may be enough to get the job done. Yet adding different peppers may bring more heat, too.

The maker of Sriracha hot sauce, Huy Fong Foods, is in the news again. According to various news sources (see here and here, for example), the City of Irwindale, California has declared unanimously that Huy Fong Foods’ factory is a public nuisance. In other words, the city council itself, and not a judge or a jury, has determined that the factory constitutes a nuisance. This is true even though Irwindale had already filed a lawsuit asking a judge or a jury to decide that very issue, and that lawsuit is still pending. The end result: Huy Fong Foods now has 90 days to remedy the alleged emission problem or the city may enter the factory and make changes or shut it down.

Would the outcome have been any different had Huy Fong Foods filed suit first seeking a ruling that its activities do not constitute a nuisance? Could Huy Fong Foods argue that the city council’s recent declaration is an attempt to circumvent the judicial process? Probably. Would this be a successful argument? In and of itself, perhaps not. Cities are invariably endowed with legal authority to protect the health and safety of their citizens.

There’s usually more than one way to address a legal problem. One approach may be enough to get the job done. Yet a multifaceted approach may bring more heat, too.

In our In the News series, we use an article or topic that has been featured recently in the news as a potential learning opportunity.

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