Courts again say the word 'stalking' is going too far in in Porter County labor dispute

A Liberty Township excavating company has been ordered by the courts to remove signs accusing a local union of stalking his family.

VALPARAISO — An argument between a local excavating company and union over the use of the word "stalking" in a sign remains unresolved.

In a brief court hearing Thursday afternoon, Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Clymer dismissed one lawsuit between Davis & Sons Excavating of Liberty Township and International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150, but couldn't rule on another lawsuit involving the sign in question because the lawsuit had been shifted to a federal case.

Neither company owner Dick Davis nor a representative appeared at the hearing, nor did they file a response to the motion to dismiss.

The lawsuit brought by Davis against the union on Oct. 30 had been moved to federal court, but was remanded back to Clymer's court March 15. Union representatives then filed a motion to dismiss that case.

The case still in question was filed Feb. 28 by the union against Davis for posting a sign at his business, 155 W. U.S. 6, accusing the union of "stalking" his daughter at school. 

At a hearing earlier this month, Clymer had ordered Davis to remove the sign.

Ken Elwood, attorney for Local 150, said the word "stalking" referred to a criminal act and use of that word amounts to defamation if someone has not been convicted of the offense.

After that hearing, Davis said he would not remove the sign and said he would take that case to federal court also. The case remains in federal court and Clymer said he could not take action unless, or until, the case was remanded back to his court.

Elwood said not removing the sign was a "willful violation" of the temporary restraining order. He added that he expects this case to also be remanded back to Clymer's court, where he will take up the matter of contempt of court by Davis. If it is not remanded back to the local court, he said, the union will file for another temporary restraining order.

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Porter County Reporter

Joyce has been a reporter for nearly 40 years, including 23 years with The Times. She's a native of Merrillville, but has lived in Portage for 39 years. She covers municipal and school government in Porter County.