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Jury awards damages to three families who sued Williamsport man for shooting their pet dogs

January 27, 2012|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals has upheld most of a $151,000 jury award against a Williamsport man sued by his neighbors for shooting two of their pet dogs.

In 2010, a Washington County Circuit Court jury awarded damages to three families who had sued Jeffrey Lynn Hurd of 11845 Camden Road.

Hurd was sued by Eric and Mary Haberkorn, Arthur and Sonja Perschuk, and James and Renee Rudolph for intentional infliction of emotional distress and nuisance claims for the shooting of the Pereschuks’ dog in 2007 and the Rudolphs’ dog in 2008, as well as allegations of spying and other harassing activities by Hurd over a period of years.

Hurd later appealed the jury award to the Court of Special Appeals, the state’s second highest court. A three-judge panel of the court issued an opinion on Jan. 24 upholding most of the jury award, but instructing the circuit court to strike $6,000 from the award for punitive damages on nuisance claims by the three families.

“We essentially got everything we asked for. We’re very satisfied with the decision of the court of appeals,” said D. Benson Thompson III, who represented the Haberkorns, Pereschuks and Rudolphs in the appeal.

Thompson said his clients conceded the trial court erred in allowing the $6,000 in punitive damages to stand because it later granted an injunction barring Hurd from conducting certain activities near the neighbors’ properties.

“The court erred when it failed to strike those monetary awards upon granting injunctive relief,” the Court of Special Appeals ruling said. By getting the injunction against Hurd, the plaintiffs waived the claim for punitive damages, the judges wrote.

The court also ruled that 90 percent of the court costs of the appeal be paid by Hurd and the remaining 10 percent by the three families.

Hurd had served a county detention center sentence for a criminal conviction for shooting one of the dogs.

In November 2011, Hurd was found in contempt of a court order instructing him to keep his distance and curtail certain activities in proximity of two of the plaintiffs. He was ordered to pay $4,000 in attorney fees, according to court records.

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