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Brown County logging damages award stands

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A landowner’s award of $55,572.50 in damages caused by a logging contractor at a property in Brown County was properly calculated, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.

Greenwood resident Ruth Sheek was alerted by neighbors near her second home – a lakefront cabin on 53 wooded acres in Brown County – that she needed to come see damage done by a logging contractor she had hired to harvest mature trees. Sheek arrived to find a deeply rutted staging area, damaged standing trees, discarded treetops and trunks, and debris that blocked access to the water.

Upset, she ordered the workers to leave, but they didn’t until a few months after her lawyer sent them a cease-and-desist letter. She sued for breach of contract and the logging firm countersued, claiming it was improperly barred from harvesting the timber Sheek allowed it to take.

Sheek claimed she thought her property was worth $500,000 before the damages and $100,000 afterward, but a panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that Brown Circuit Judge Judith Stewart properly found the damages in Ruth Sheek v. Mark A Morin Logging, Inc.,  07A01-1211-PL-509.

Stewart arrived at the damages award using the estimate of a real estate appraiser who said cost of remediation was about $75,000. Stewart added $5,000 to restore a stone path to the lake, then subtracted $20,427.50 in remediation costs the logging firm performed and $4,000 for the value of trees Morin Logging Co. was unable to harvest.

“Because the evidence shows that damages still remained to Ruth’s property after (a subcontractor’s) remediation work, it was reasonable for the trial court to subtract the amount … spent on remediation from the $75,000 estimate to determine the amount that Morin Logging still owed,” Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote for the court.

“The trial court’s damage award is supported by the evidence,” she concluded.      
 

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  1. A sad end to a prolific gadfly. Indiana has suffered a great loss in the journalistic realm.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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