APPEAL FROM THE ORDER ENTERED JANUARY 18, 1986 IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF WYOMING COUNTY, CIVIL DIVISION, NO. 7 EQUITY DOCKET PAGE 157.
Steven J. Shiffman, Harrisburg, amicus curiae.
James E. Davis, Tunkhannock, for appellant.
George E. Clark, Scranton, for appellees.
Cirillo, President Judge, and Wickersham,*fn* and Kelly, JJ.
[ 361 Pa. Super. Page 476]
This case involves an appeal by appellant, Factoryville Sportsmen's Club, of an order holding that appellant's firing ranges constitute a private nuisance, and instituting regulations regarding the operation of appellant's business. For the reasons stated below, we vacate the order and remand the case for further proceedings.
The Factoryville Sportsmen's Club ("the Club") operates shooting ranges on its premises in rural-agricultural Overfield Township, Wyoming County. Plaintiffs Edward and Barbara Soja ("the Sojas") reside in a dwelling situated on fifty-five acres of land. The home is located approximately one hundred yards from a clubhouse on the Club's premises. On July 5, 1984, the Sojas brought a suit in equity, seeking to enjoin the continued operation of the Club's shooting ranges. Preliminary objections to the original complaint were sustained in part. The Sojas then filed an amended complaint, asserting that the Club constituted a nuisance which should be enjoined, or which entitled the Sojas to monetary damages. Following a hearing on September 4, 1984, the trial court issued findings of fact, conclusions of law, and a decree nisi, declaring the unsupervised operation of the club to constitute a private nuisance. The decree included certain restrictions on Club operation: the court restricted the shooting season at the Club to the months of April through November, limited the times for shooting to the hours between ten o'clock a.m. and sunset, and prohibited use of the premises by non-members. In addition, the court ordered the Club to install a gate at the entranceway, to maintain a bulletin board at the entrance with a posted monthly schedule of shooting times, to post legible signs on the perimeters of Club property, and to meet with plaintiff Edward Soja for the purpose of producing a comprehensive and reasonable plan for noise reduction. The parties filed post-trial motions, and by order dated January 18, 1986, the decree nisi became final. The trial court stated that its action was based upon the Sojas' request for preliminary injunction and was not intended as
[ 361 Pa. Super. Page 477]
a permanent injunction. The court did not require the plaintiffs to post a bond. The Club then appealed to this court.
On appeal, the Club raises five issues: (1) whether the trial court improperly granted injunctive relief without requiring the appellee to post a bond; (2) whether the action is barred by the doctrine of laches; (3) whether the plaintiffs presented sufficient evidence to prove that the Club's operation of target and trapshooting ranges constitutes a private nuisance; (4) whether the trial court improperly restricted the questioning of the Club's expert witness; and (5) whether the trial court erred in requiring the Club to produce a comprehensive plan for noise reduction devices. Because we find that the trial court improperly entered a final injunction in response to a request for a preliminary injunction, we need not discuss the individual issues presented by the Club.
The purposes of a preliminary injunction are to preserve the status quo and prevent imminent and irreparable harm which might occur before the merits of the case can be heard and determined. Township of Clinton v. Carmat, Inc., 288 Pa. Super. 433, 436, 432 A.2d 238, 239 (1981). It is considered an extraordinary remedy and may only be granted if the plaintiff has established a clear right to the relief sought. Jostan Alum. Products, Inc. v. Mount Carmel Dist. Indus. Fund, 256 Pa. Super. 353, 357-58, 389 A.2d 1160, 1163 (1978).
A preliminary injunction is usually restrictive or prohibitory but in unusual cases it may go beyond restraint and command action. Jostan, 256 Pa. Super. at 358, 389 A.2d at 1163. In either case, its purpose is to preserve the status quo and it should do this by restoring the last peaceable, noncontested status which ...