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More than $150,000 awarded in dog-shooting suit

May 06, 2010|By DON AINES

HAGERSTOWN -- A Washington County Circuit Court jury on Thursday awarded more than $150,000 to three families who sued a neighbor for intentional infliction of emotional distress and nuisance claims.

Jeffrey Lynn Hurd, 56, of 11845 Camden Road near Williamsport, was sued by Eric and Mary Haberkorn, Arthur and Sonja Pereschuk, and James and Renee Rudolph.

The jury awarded the plaintiffs $138,550 in compensatory damages, about half of the amount sought by their attorney, D. Bruce Poole. An additional $13,000 in punitive damages was awarded by the jury.

"We're pleased it's finally been recognized that we had a problem and something was done about it," Sonja Pereschuk said.

Hurd was convicted on criminal charges last year of shooting a dog belonging to the Pereschuks in July 2007 and a dog belonging to the Rudolphs in May 2008. The conviction for shooting the Pereschuks' dog was overturned by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.

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"I just want everybody to know we were the victims in this, and justice has been served," James Rudolph said.

The Haberkorns claimed Hurd spied upon, threatened and harassed them.

The case still has one more issue to be resolved, Eric Haberkorn said.

Circuit Judge John H. McDowell will schedule a hearing in the next few weeks to consider requests for injunctions against Hurd to prevent unnecessary contact with the plaintiffs, he said.

"Decisions regarding further proceedings are deferred until the remaining matters in the case shall have been concluded," Hurd's attorney, William C. Wantz, said after the trial.

The jury determined Arthur Pereschuk suffered extreme emotional distress as a result of the fatal shooting of his dog, Bristol, on July 27, 2007, and awarded him $25,000.

Renee Rudolph was awarded $20,000 by the jury for the emotional distress she suffered as a result of May 8, 2008, fatal shooting of her dog, Harley. She also was awarded $5,000 for emotional distress caused by Hurd's patrolling of his property line while carrying a firearm.

The Pereschuks and Rudolphs each were awarded $40,000 in compensatory damages, which includes the awards for emotional distress, as well as nuisance claims pertaining to repeated gunfire from Hurd's property and to his patrolling near their property lines while armed.

The jury awarded $58,550 in compensatory damages to the Haberkorns for claims related to repeated gunfire from Hurd's property; blocking access to the lane with equipment; spying on the Haberkorns and their visitors; maintaining observation posts to spy on the Haberkorns and their visitors; and patrolling near their property line while armed.

The Rudolphs and Pereschuks each were awarded $5,000 in punitive damages; the Haberkorns were awarded $3,000.

The jury did not find Hurd liable for damages on several nuisance claims associated with his shale mining and wood cutting operations, including causing excessive dust, operating heavy equipment at unreasonable hours, building large brush piles along property lines, and driving up and down the shared lane with no legitimate purpose.

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