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Judge Hears Arguments On Motions In Lake Monroe Logging Lawsuit

Logging trucks at Huff property

Neighbors and Huff have different interpretations of an agreement that specifies how they can use shared easements. (Barbara Brosher, WFIU/WTIU News)

A Monroe County judge heard arguments on several motions Wednesday in an ongoing dispute between neighbors over logging on private property along Lake Monroe.

Michael Cain and Linda Raymond filed a lawsuit against Joe Huff last year because they say he was improperly using shared easements for commercial logging on his property.

A Monroe County judge granted a preliminary injunction stopping Huff from using the easements for logging, but the Court of Appeals recently reversed that decision

Use Of Easement Agreement by Indiana Public Media News on Scribd

Huff’s attorney Tom Malapit wants a jury trial in the case because he says the agreement that specifies how Huff can use the easements is ambiguous. He’s also requesting the case be heard outside of Monroe County if the judge grants a jury trial. Malapit argues media coverage and a recent lawsuit the county filed against Huff would make it hard to find an impartial jury.

Michael Carmin represents Cain and Raymond. He argues a jury trial isn’t warranted because the easement agreement is clear and only allows Huff to use them for the development of six homes. Carmin says that does not include logging. As for the change of venue, he says publicity doesn't prevent a fair trial. Carmin also points out Malapit has spoken to media about the case, but the plaintiffs have not. 

The judge also heard brief arguments on a motion Carmin filed requesting access to the Huff property in June to collect photos as part of the case.

Judge Holly Harvey says she expects to issue a ruling on all of the motions by Monday.

The next hearing in the case is set for June 12. The judge will hear arguments that day on two different requests to stop Huff from using the shared easements for logging. She’ll also hear arguments on a motion Malapit filed requesting the neighbors pay Huff’s legal fees and damages.

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