WARSAW — A judge has ruled that homeowners are entitled to a permanent injunction that will once again prohibit almost all motorized racing at the Kosciusko County Fairgrounds.
The ruling by Special Judge Stephen R. Bowers was issued on Sept. 3 and represents a significant defeat for members of the fair board who began allowing racing at the track several years ago despite a prohibition that had been agreed upon in 1989.
The judge ruled in favor of the plaintiff’s request for partial summary judgment and denied the fair board’s request for summary judgment.
“Denying a permanent injunction, and thus allowing the fair to renege on its settlement agreement, would in the Court’s judgment seriously undermine the public interest,” Bowers wrote in his ruling.
A temporary injunction prohibiting motorized racing at the fairgrounds has been in place for more than a year and spanned two racing seasons.
A group of property owners who live near the fairgrounds filed suit in 2018 after the fairgrounds began hosting occasional racing events at the speedway.
The fair attempted to argue that the current suit did not have standing because of a change in ownership involving one of the original plaintiffs, James Cummins, who sold his home to Chris Cummins.
The fair sought to question the legal standing of Chris Cummins, one of the current plaintiffs who had purchased his home from his father, James, one of the original plaintiffs.
The fair sought to prevent Chris Cummins from establishing his chain of title and to negate his standing to bring the court action. The new ruling points out that the fair “has never designated evidence suggesting that Chris Cummins is not a successor in interest to his father as one of the original owners.”
“The fair’s argument that the restrictive covenant violates the Rule against Perpetuities is unsupported by any citation to the relevant legal authority. Nor has the fair made any cogent argument in favor of its novel proposition. The right of the successors and assigns of the original homeowners to enjoy the benefits of the restriction imposed on the fair property is clearly vested and not subject to divestment,” the ruling said.
The fair board also sought to have the court consider earlier rulings, but the judge pointed out that neither side provided anything that would support a different outcome.
“Consequently, the Court will not indulge the fair’s request to reconsider the previous rulings on the law. The fair’s position does not even rise to the level of asking the court to reweigh the evidence, because the facts have not been in genuine dispute,” the ruling read.
The ruling also points out that the agreement for a restrictive covenant preserved a limited right for the fair to conduct motorized racing during fair week as well as other uses of the fair’s property.
The judgment can be appealed.
Attempts to reach representatives of both sides late Friday afternoon were not successful.