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Civil suit winners ask for restrictions on neighbor

May 27, 2010|By DON AINES

HAGERSTOWN -- Three families who won a civil suit against a neighbor earlier this month were in Washington County Circuit Court on Wednesday asking the court to impose restrictions on Jeffrey Lynn Hurd, including that he not possess firearms.

A jury on May 6 awarded more than $150,000 in compensatory and punitive damages to three families who had sued Jeffrey Lynn Hurd of Williamsport, alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress and nuisance claims.

The award included money to Arthur Pereschuk and Renee Rudolph for emotional distress they suffered as a result of Hurd shooting and killing their dogs in 2007 and 2008.

On Wednesday, Travis Poole, the attorney for Eric and Mary Haberkorn, Arthur and Sonja Pereschuk, and James and Renee Rudolph, asked Washington County Circuit Judge John H. McDowell for an injunction against Hurd to restrict his contact with them.

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During the trial, the jury found that Hurd, 56, of 11845 Camden Road, patrolled his and his father's property lines armed with a rifle and that he fired guns repeatedly on parts of his property other than a private firing range.

The jury also found that Hurd blocked access to the lane he shared with the Haberkorns, spied on the Haberkorns and maintained observation posts to spy on them and their visitors.

"The only way to stop that is to tell (Hurd) he can't have a gun on his property" or on his father's property, Poole said of the nuisance findings of patrolling and repeated gunfire.

Poole said another option would be restrictions on days and hours when Hurd could fire weapons.

"Use of a firearm considered reasonable should not be enjoined," Hurd's attorney, William C. Wantz, said.

"My neighbors called the law on me five times for firing my gun, and three times I wasn't even home," Hurd told McDowell.

Poole also asked that Hurd be prohibited from using any spoken or written words, gestures or other conduct toward the Haberkorns "that would incite a breach of the peace."

"The Haberkorns just don't want him watching them," Poole said.

"Shouldn't there be some more definitive way of describing this?" McDowell asked.

The judge said some more-specific request might be needed to prevent "incidental observation" being used to cite Hurd for contempt.

Poole also asked that Hurd not be allowed to put up any observation posts within view of the Haberkorns' property.

"Every property owner and the spouse of any property owner has the right to reasonable use of their property," Wantz told McDowell. The right of a person to hunt on his own property should be preserved, and there are existing regulations prohibiting hunting within specified distances of homes and public gathering places, he said.

Hurd also should be allowed to maintain his "right to control vermin," such as groundhogs, on his property, Wantz said.

Other issues, such as brush piles and hunting stands within view of the neighbors, had been addressed through a November 2009 consent order signed by Hurd's father, John Hurd, Wantz said.

John Hurd agreed to move back the brush piles and remove the hunting stands, he said.

There is no common property line between Jeffrey Hurd and the Haberkorns, Wantz said.

Hurd has no property rights on his father's property, which does border the Haberkorns' land, Poole said.

McDowell said he would issue an order within the next few days.

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