SW Legal studies in Business

State Law Protecting Farm Operations Against Nuisance Suits Is Constitutional
Description

Indiana appeals court upheld the constitutionality of the state’s Right to Farm Act that limits the right to sue farm operators for nuisance. The act does not inflict a taking that must be compensated.

Topic Constitutional Law
Key Words

Eminent Domain; Nuisance; Right to Farm

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

DeGroot runs a large dairy farm in Indiana that he started in 2002. His property borders the land owned and occupied by the Lindseys since 1998. The Lindseys sued DeGroot for nuisance and other claims related to the operation of the diary, which they contend imposes costs on them. The trial court dismissed the suit as barred by the Indiana Right to Farm Act. The Lindseys appealed, contending that the law was unconstitutional.

Decision

Affirmed. The Indiana Right to Farm Act restricts the right to bring nuisance suits against agricultural operations. The Lindseys contend that the law is an unconstitutional taking of their property without just compensation, so it is a violation of the Fifth Amendment. They argue that if DeGroot is allowed to impose costs on them because of the statute, then the state has exercised eminent domain on DeGroot’s behalf and must compensate them. That was the finding of the Iowa supreme court in a similar matter. However, the Idaho and Texas courts rejected such challenges to Right to Farm Acts, and this court agrees. One must put up with “mere annoyances or inconveniences” related to lawful business operations. DeGroot runs the dairy operation in a proper manner. The value of the Lindseys property has risen over the years since they bought it. To have a claim, the Right to Farm Act requires the Lindseys to show that the dairy was operated in an “outrageous” manner that would be seen as “atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized society.” They have not, so they have suffered no taking of their property under the standard set by the statute.

Citation

Lindsey v. DeGroot, ---N.E2d--- (2009 WL 57498, Ct. App., Ind., 2009)

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