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Summary judgment affirmed for dairy farm

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The Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment in favor of a confined feeding operation in a dispute between the dairy farm and its neighbor over a tract of land and the impact of the farm on the neighbor's property.

Donald J. and Jacquelyn Lindsey v. Johannes DeGroot, Egberdien DeGroot, and DeGroot Dairy, LLC,  No. 35A02-0805-CV-470, is the second appeal involving the Lindseys and DeGroots that has come before the appellate court. Various agricultural organizations, including the Indiana Soybean Alliance and the Indiana Professional Dairy Association, filed amicus briefs in the case.

DeGroot Dairy owns a farm field directly north of Donald and Jacquelyn Lindsey's property, with a grass strip running along the boundary. DeGroot Dairy hired a surveyor, who determined DeGroot was the owner of the northern half of the land and the Lindseys owned the southern half.

More than 18 months after DeGroot began his dairy farm, the Lindseys filed a suit to enjoin the farm from further operation and for compensation for nuisance, negligence, trespass, criminal mischief, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the dairy, finding Indiana's Right to Farm Act applied to the case and barred the nuisance claims. It also found no genuine issues of material fact existed on the other claims.

The Court of Appeals rejected the Lindseys' claim the Indiana Right to Farm Act is unconstitutional and effectively grants an easement to the dairy over the Lindseys' property and found the act barred their nuisance claim. The farm had been in operation for more than a year when they filed suit; the act bars the nuisance suit unless there has been a significant change in the type of farm operation. But because they didn't raise this change before the trial court, the issue is waived here, wrote Judge Cale Bradford.

The Lindseys also failed to prove the claimed nuisance was from the negligent operation of DeGroot Dairy. They didn't designate any evidence suggesting alleged statutory violations by the farm were the proximate cause of their claimed injuries and their own testimony on the matter showed a lack of connection between the farm's alleged 2002 CFO violation, which was later dismissed, and the Lindseys' claimed injury.

On their trespass claim, the Lindseys didn't show any evidence to dispute the survey findings regarding ownership of the grass tract of land. They also couldn't prove the dairy farm recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally damaged their property, which is needed to succeed on their criminal mischief claim. Also, as a matter of law, the dairy farm's actions don't constitute "outrageous" behavior as defined in the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress. As a result, summary judgment in favor of DeGroot Dairy on these claims was proper, wrote Judge Bradford.

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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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