The Supreme Court began its new term Monday with a remembrance of “a dear friend and a treasured colleague,” the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (Oct. 5)
Nearly five years after Richard and Janet Himsel’s legal battle over odors and other alleged harm from the nearby confined hog feeding operation began, it appears to be coming to a close.
Earlier this year, the Hendricks County couple, with the help of a local environmental group, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on their case that claimed Indiana’s Right to Farm Act violated the U.S. Constitution. On Monday, the nation’s highest court rejected that appeal.
The court is asked to review more than 7,000 cases each year, and it usually accepts only about 100 to 150. Kim Ferraro, senior staff attorney for the Hoosier Environmental Council and the plaintiff’s counsel, said in July when the petition was filed that they always knew it was a long shot — but a shot they felt worth taking.
Ferrarro did not immediately respond to IndyStar’s request for comment.
Richard Himsel lives on the farm his family has had since 1940 in Danville, Ind. Himsel has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Indiana’s Right to Farm laws. He says the presence of the industrial-sized hog farm adjacent to his property, 1,600 feet from his home, has diminished the quality of his life. Due to the odor, his wife no longer lives on the property. (Photo: Doug McSchooler/for The Star)
Defense counsel Chris Braun, a partner at Plews Shadley Racher & Braun, said in a statement that this is a “huge win for Indiana farmers and the entire agricultural community.” He said this change allows farmers to modernize their operations and change the use of their farmland “while being protected from nuisance lawsuits by neighbors who disagree.”
The issue in the petition to the court was whether Indiana’s Right to Farm statute provides complete immunity for nuisance and trespass liability to confined feeding operations, and in doing so, violates the Takings Clause of the Constitution. That clause says that private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation.
Richard and Janet Himsel — along with another neighboring couple — filed a lawsuit in 2015 after an 8,000-hog barn moved in next door two years before and allegedly began causing harm.
This livestock operation less than a mile away from Richard Himsel’s property, on County Road 425 West in Hendricks County. Himsel lives on a Danville farm his family has owned since 1940. Himsel has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Indiana’s Right to Farm laws, saying it protects corporations and large farming operations over the rights of smaller farmers and individuals. (Photo: Doug McSchooler / For The Star)
The case began in Indiana Trial Court, where they alleged the farm diminished their quality of life — that the odors from the farm made being in their homes unbearable and made their throat and eyes sting, and reduced