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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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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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