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COA rules against longtime shooting range owner

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A Marshall Circuit judge erred in granting partial summary judgment in favor of a shooting range owner on his neighbors’ claims of nuisance, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Thursday. The appellate judges found a statute cited by the trial court did not apply to the owner.

Levi Wayne Kemp built a shooting range on his property in Marshall County before any ordinances, zoning restrictions or laws governing shooting ranges were in effect. He has since expanded several times and received the county board of zoning appeals’ approval in 2008 to continue the operation of the range. His neighbors across the road, Connie and Richard Yates and Jason and Pauline Tibbs, sued Kemp, claiming nuisance, negligence and other claims. They maintained that the shooting range prevents them from riding their horses, scares the horses and they often have to close their windows because of noise from the range.

Marshall Circuit Judge Curtis D. Palmer granted partial summary judgment to Kemp on the nuisance claim, the only issue before the COA. Palmer cited Indiana Code 14-22-31.5-1 et seq. in determining Kemp wasn’t liable for his neighbors’ nuisance claims.

But Senior Judge Betty Barteau pointed out in Connie Yates, Rick Yates, Jason Tibbs, and Pauline Tibbs v. Levi Wayne Kemp, 50A04-1204-CT-192, that Section 6, which provides a safe harbor in limited circumstances for owners, operators and users of shooting ranges against claims of noise pollution doesn’t apply to Kemp. That section is only applicable to ranges “if the shooting range complies with a law or an ordinance that applied to the shooting range and its operation at the time of the construction or initial operation of the shooting range, if such a law or ordinance was in existence at the time of the construction or initial operation of the shooting range.”

Kemp isn’t entitled to the protection of Section 6 because there were no applicable laws or ordinances in effect at the time he built and began operating the range, the judges held.

They also found evidence to establish a dispute of material fact as to whether Kemp has caused his neighbors to experience inconvenience, annoyance or discomfort. The matter is remanded for further proceedings.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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