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Camp Tall Timbers, Inc. v. Echo Valley Training Center, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia, Martinsburg

June 7, 2019

CAMP TALL TIMBERS, INC. Plaintiff,
v.
ECHO VALLEY TRAINING CENTER, LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR A PRELIIMINARY INJUNCTION

          GINA M. GROH CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On May 30, 2019, the parties in the above-styled civil action appeared before the Court for a hearing on the Plaintiff's Motion for a Preliminary Injunction [ECF No. 30]. Edward I. Levicoff appeared on behalf of the Plaintiff, Camp Tall Timbers, Inc. (“Camp Tall Timbers”). Kathy M. Santa Barbara appeared on behalf of the Defendant, Echo Valley Training Center, LLC (“EVTC”). After reviewing the parties' briefs, considering the evidence presented and carefully analyzing the controlling law, the Court DENIES the motion for a preliminary injunction for the reasons provided herein.

         I. Background

         This civil action arises from an incident that occurred on August 4, 2018, where a bullet went through a window of a Camp Tall Timbers' cabin and struck a staff member's leg. Camp Tall Timbers alleges the bullet came from EVTC's facility. The background of that dispute is as follows.

         Camp Tall Timbers has been operating as a summer camp for children between the ages of seven and seventeen since 1970. On the property adjacent to Camp Tall Timbers, EVTC has a firearm training facility which it has been operating since 2011. The facility is a private, by contract only, training facility utilized by federal Department of Defense personnel, special operations and elite task forces, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, gun manufacturers and other private and government groups.

         EVTC's property was purchased by Crooked Creek Investments, LLC in 2006. Between 2007 and 2008, three lower ranges were constructed on the property and in the Spring of 2015 an upper range was constructed. EVTC's upper range is approximately 400 to 500 yards from Camp Tall Timbers. The shooting direction on the upper range is in the opposite direction of Camp Tall Timbers. EVTC's three lower ranges are nine-tenths of a mile from Camp Tall Timbers. The shooting direction on the three lower ranges points in the direction of Camp Tall Timbers.

         On August 4, 2018, a bullet went through the window of a Camp Tall Timbers' cabin and struck a staff member's leg. At 2:45 p.m., Brooke Burnside, who worked at Camp Tall Timbers, called 911 to report the incident. On the date of the incident, two of the three lower ranges were leased for use to Andrews International, a government contractor, for training exercises. Leslie Winner, a certified NRA firearms instructor, and a friend were using the upper range on the date of the incident. Mr. Winner was using the range between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.

         On October 24, 2018, Camp Tall Timbers filed this action seeking to enjoin EVTC from operating its firearm training facility or to enjoin EVTC from operating its facility until it can certify that it does not present any risk of harm to Camp Tall Timbers' campers, visitors, staff members or property. ECF No. 1. On May 10, 2019, Camp Tall Timbers filed a motion for a preliminary injunction. ECF No. 30. The Court held a hearing on Camp Tall Timbers' motion on May 30, 2019. The Court heard evidence from both parties and reserved issuing a decision until after receiving the parties' closing arguments.

         II. Applicable Law

         “A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy never awarded as of right.” Winter v. Nat. Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 24 (2008) (citing Munaf, 553 U.S. 674, 689-90 (2008)). To succeed on a motion for a preliminary injunction, the plaintiff must make a “clear showing” that “he is likely to succeed on the merits, that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and that an injunction is in the public interest.” Winter, 555 U.S. at 20, 22. “All four requirements must be satisfied.” Real Truth About Obama, Inc. v. Fed. Elec. Comm'n, 575 F.3d 342, 346 (4th Cir. 2009) (vacated and remanded on other grounds).

         If the court grants a motion for a preliminary injunction it must: (1) state the reasons why the injunction was issued; (2) state the injunction's terms specifically; and (3) describe in reasonable detail the act or acts restrained or required. Fed.R.Civ.P. 65(d)(1). Additionally, the court may grant a preliminary injunction “only if the movant gives security in an amount that the court considers proper to pay the costs and damages sustained by any party found to have been wrongfully enjoined or restrained.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 65(c). In the Fourth Circuit, “this rule is mandatory and unambiguous.” Hoechst Diafoil Co. v. Nan Ya Plastics Corp., 174 F.3d 411, 421 (4th Cir. 1999). “Although the district court has discretion to set bond amount in such sum as the court deems proper, it is not free to disregard the bond requirement altogether.” Id. “[F]ailure to require bond upon issuing injunctive relief is reversible error.” Id.

         III. Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law

          The Court finds that an injunction is not warranted in this matter because Camp Tall Timbers has not made a clear showing (1) it is likely to succeed on the merits of its claims; (2) it is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief; (3) the balance of equities tips in its favor; and (4) an injunction is in the public interest.

         A. Camp Tall Timbers has not made a clear showing that it is likely to ...


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