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COA: Business is a nuisance to homeowners

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Despite modifications to a mycelium-drying business located adjacent to a farmhouse, the business is still a nuisance that deprives the homeowners from the free use and enjoyment of their property, ruled the Indiana Court of Appeals.

The appellate court reversed the Wabash Circuit Court's decision, which found that because Ted Parker had made modifications to his business, homeowners Randall Bonewitz and Russell Dellinger weren't entitled to a permanent injunction against the business. Bonewitz and Dellinger purchased the farmhouse from Parker in 1997; after the sale, Parker still owned the adjacent land and used it for farming hay. In 2003, he started a business that dries wet mycelium - a byproduct of the manufacture of food-grade citric acid - to sell for use in animal feed. The furnace is about 150 feet from the home and Parker received the proper permits to rezone his land from agricultural use to business/commercial use.

In 2007, the homeowners filed suit alleging the business is a nuisance because of the foul smells omitted, dust in the air, and constant trucking in of sawdust, which fuels the dryer for the mycelium. They sought a permanent injunction or damages. The trial court declined to enter a total preliminary injunction or damages, but ordered Parker be permanently enjoined from unloading sawdust outside the pole building.

In Bonewitz and Dellinger v. Parker, No. 85A04-0901-CV-16, the Court of Appeals disagreed with the trial court's decision that the effect on Bonewitz and Dellinger's home has been "greatly reduced" by Parker's efforts to mitigate truck noise, dust, and vibrations from his business. The undisputed evidence shows they continue to live with a stench that permeates the house, they can't use their yard, or open their windows, wrote Judge Edward Najam.

"Those infringements are not occasional or incidental, and they are more than an annoyance or inconvenience. While the nuisance may have been partially ameliorated, it has not been abated," he wrote.

Parker's argument that the pair bought the home knowing they were in an agriculturally zoned area and they can't complain about the discomfort based on agricultural uses failed because Parker's company isn't agricultural; it's a business that required rezoning. The issue is the magnitude of the business and Parker even admitted only 10 percent of his production is for his own use, wrote the judge.

Instead of ordering permanent injunctive relief, which would probably destroy Parker's business, the Court of Appeals remanded to the trial court to determine if the homeowners can be made whole with a monetary judgment. If so, then it should consider the evidence of their damages, including damages for discomfort and annoyance, when coming up with an amount.

If the trial court determines Bonewitz and Dellinger can't be made whole with a money judgment, then the court shall issue the total, permanent injunction against Parker's business.

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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