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Right to Farm Act bars CAFO nuisance claim, appeals court rules

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A Gibson County farmer may not bring a nuisance claim against a neighboring dairy that dramatically expanded its operations to what he called a “factory-like ‘mega-farm,’” the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.

The panel unanimously affirmed Gibson Circuit Judge Earl G. Penrod’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendants in Glenn Parker, As Trustee Under the Revocable Declaration of Trust Agreement of Glenn Parker, Individually and Phyllis C. Parker, Individually v. Obert's Legacy Dairy, LLC, 26A05-1209-PL-450.  

The case pitted family interests that have owned neighboring farms in Fort Branch for generations, the Parkers farming there since the 1930s and the Oberts since the 1830s. In 2010, the Oberts began a permitted 750-cow confined animal feeding operation granted by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management that was closer to the Parkers’ residence.

The trial court granted summary judgment on the Parkers’ nuisance argument that the CAFO produced offensive odors and devalued their property. The dairy claimed Indiana’s Right to Farm Act, I.C. 32-30-6-9, bars such actions on existing farms, and the trial court agreed.

The Parkers were unable to convince the appellate judges that the conversion of former cropland to a CAFO represented “a significant change in the type of operation” that would permit a nuisance claim.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court in a 12-page order. “It is clear that the Act insulates the Oberts’ expansion of their dairy farm from nuisance suits under these circumstances. In sum, we affirm the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the Dairy,” Judge Patricia Riley wrote for the court.
 

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  1. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  2. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  3. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  4. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  5. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

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