A Rockland man who shot and wounded an intruder in his home last year is appealing a judge’s ruling in May that the owners of the apartment complex where he lived did not violate his civil rights when he was told to give up the gun or face eviction.

An attorney for Harvey Lembo, 68, filed the appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court last Friday. The attorney, Patrick Strawbridge of Boston, said the court erred in granting the property owners’ motion to dismiss Lembo’s civil case on the grounds that evicting a tenant did not support a cause of action under the Maine Civil Rights Act.

Superior Court Justice William Stokes had dismissed the case May 9, saying Lembo’s claims failed to meet the basic standard that would give him grounds for the case to move forward.

Lembo, a retired and disabled lobsterman, shot Christopher Wildhaber after midnight Sept. 1. Lembo had bought the pistol less than 24 hours earlier after several break-ins at his apartment.

His lawsuit, filed in November 2015, claimed that his landlord’s threat to evict him through the courts violated his Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, and violated the Maine Civil Rights Act. Lembo, who uses a wheelchair, had argued that he needed the gun to protect himself after his home was burglarized multiple times in recent years.

The case quickly became a flash point for gun-rights advocates, who point to Lembo’s actions as evidence that firearms are useful for lawful personal protection. The case also became the basis for a state law that goes into effect in July that places new limits on what landlords may regulate when it comes to firearm possession in their rental units.

Lembo’s legal team included Washington, D.C., attorneys David Thompson and Howard Nielson Jr., who have represented the National Rifle Association. They argued that threatening to take Lembo to court if he did not give up his gun equated to the use of physical force, a required element under the Maine law to prove a violation of someone’s civil rights.

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