How a Can of Stinking Fish Won a Lawsuit

The major disadvantage to living in an apartment building is not getting to pick your neighbors. Maybe your upstairs neighbors have kids who stomp around at 6 a.m., or someone a few floors below you uses more hot water than the building could possibly provide. Then again, maybe there’s a particularly pungent odor emanating from another apartment and wafting through the stairwells. None of those are likely grounds for eviction, unless, of course, surströmming is involved. In case you’re not familiar, surströmming is a Swedish delicacy — a herring that’s canned in brine and fermented for a few months before opening. By all accounts, the smell is absolutely awful — and yet, people eat it. Typically, it’s eaten outdoors, far away from where the can is opened. It’s definitely not something that should be opened in an apartment building, but that’s exactly what happened when a German man went overboard with surströmming. As a result, the landlord kicked him out. The resident fought back, taking the landlord to court. After reviewing the case, the judge sided with the tenant. That’s when the landlord stepped up to the judge and opened a can of surströmming he had brought along just in case. It worked! The judge determined that the awful smell of the fish far exceeds what should be considered tolerable for other tenants. With that, the offending tenant’s lease came to an end.