Like many other rural Hoosiers, Gary and Mable Bowling were suffering from the operation of their neighbors’ OWB. The Bowlings had lived at their home outside Rushville, Indiana, for nearly twenty years. In 2010, their neighbors installed an OWB 60 feet from the Bowlings’ home. The OWB was an older model designed for a much larger house, and did not have an emission control device. As a result, whatever was burned in the OWB smoldered for hours and released extensive amounts of thick, acrid smoke that regularly blew on the Bowlings’ property.

The smoke was so thick and sharp that it would seep through the walls of the Bowlings’ house like a sponge. This intrusion of hazardous smoke severely diminished the Bowlings’ quality of life and the continuous exposure was worsening Mable Bowling’s asthma and respiratory problems. Even the Bowlings’ children and grandchildren would limit their visits because the smoke was so powerful and nauseating that it made them sick in less than an hour.

Unfortunately, Indiana’s regulation of OWBs is astonishingly lax. The current rule imposes burning seasons and prohibits burning certain materials. Also, the federal government’s new OWB rule only pertains to new OWBs, not older models like the one used by the Bowlings’ neighbor. As a result, there are large gaps in environmental policy that severely affect Hoosiers like the Bowlings all over Indiana. To address this injustice, HEC filed a lawsuit in Rush County Court with the aim of obtaining a court order to stop the Bowlings’ neighbors from using their OWB.

In February 2016, the Bowlings received a legal victory!

Because litigation can take many years, HEC asked the trial court to issue a preliminary injunction to prevent the Bowlings’ neighbors from using their OWB during the pendency of the case. After the trial court wrongly denied HEC’s request, we appealed to the Indiana Court of Appeals which reversed the trial court and ordered it to issue the preliminary injunction. Read the Bowling’s Case Summary.

To learn more about the case, contact our Senior Staff Attorney Kim Ferraro.

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