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KMG

Neighbor suing for future rain water damages

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Our house is the lowest house on the street.  Our crazy neighbor just sued us for several thousand dollars because some day rain water may damage his property.

 

When it rains, the excess water flows down from his property to the side of our house, where it then goes out to the street or back yard.  His gutters point right at the side of our house.  Our gutters go into longer pipes that point to the front drain and back yard so our water keeps moving.  In our backyard, we dug a small brook that carries water out towards the woods where there is a natural spring.

 

I guess he is thinking that some day during torrential rains that enough of his rain water will pool against the side of our house and flow back uphill onto his property again and flood his basement.  He wants us to do something else on our property to handle his rain water.  I suggested calmly that he should take care of the rain water on his property, like also digging a small brook, because we didn't have a problem.

 

We called the county and they laughed because our property is lower than his.  We told a police officer friend and he suggested we sue him for harassment.

 

I have photos of the neighbor trespassing on our property.  He is a constant complainer, control freak, hates animals and threatened us a couple of weeks ago that he would get rid of our dogs just like he got rid of the neighbor's dog.  We are careful around him because other neighbors have told us that he actually shot 2-3 animals years ago.  Our dogs rarely go out, his recent complaints were actually about a stray pack of dogs, not ours, and we have photos of that as well.

 

I have to file our answer.  On the one hand, I just want to deal with the bogus water complaint and be done with it.  He has no damages, nothing has happened, and I don't think a property owner can tell another property owner that they have to something about rain.

 

However, we really want him to leave us alone.  We are wondering if we should countersue for harassment and ask the judge to issue a no trespass order.  I'd really like a tall privacy fence on our property line because he can see over our retaining wall and we are all uncomfortable in our backyard.  We just put in a new furnace/ac unit and are worried he could damage it out of retaliation for losing this case as well.

 

Thanks for any insights on how we can/should answer this complaint.

 

 

 

 

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15 minutes ago, KMG said:

We called the county and they laughed because our property is lower than his.

 

Who exactly at "the county" did you call about this (not a name, but a title or position)?

 

 

15 minutes ago, KMG said:

We told a police officer friend and he suggested we sue him for harassment.

 

Most police officers know no more about civil law than any other person, and this rather silly suggestion seems to indicate that your friend falls into this category.

 

 

17 minutes ago, KMG said:

We are wondering if we should countersue for harassment and ask the judge to issue a no trespass order.

 

You need to hire an attorney, and the first thing you should do in this regard is send a copy of the lawsuit to your homeowner's insurance carrier to see if your insurer will provide an attorney for your defense.  That being said, suing or countersuing for "harassment" makes no sense.  If the alleged "harassment" is the filing of the lawsuit, your recourse is to successfully defend against the lawsuit.  You could, in theory, sue for trespass, but you appear to have suffered no actionable damages.

 

 

19 minutes ago, KMG said:

I'd really like a tall privacy fence

 

Unless your home is subject to an HOA regulation or local law that prohibits this, you're free to build such a fence.

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We called the county office responsible for streets and drainage.  He pulled up the elevation map and saw how much lower our property is.  Then he came out to make sure there wasn't something else the county should do.  

 

I agree with you about the police not understanding all legal issues.

 

I did call our homeowner's insurance.  We have a large deductible so we would end up paying for the attorney.  

 

Because the plaintiff has no damages, I can't imagine that we would lose, so I don't want to pay for an attorney.

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1 hour ago, KMG said:

I did call our homeowner's insurance.  We have a large deductible so we would end up paying for the attorney.  

 

 

Who did you call at your insurance company? I'll bet it was your agent (clueless). Any insurance person with half a brain should know that your deductible applies to damage to your property under Section I of your policy and does not apply to defending you against a lawsuit under your Section II Liability Coverage.

 

Take out your policy papers and look for a toll free number for reporting claims. Call up and say "I am being sued. Please open a claim under my liability insurance." Then you'll be assigned a claim rep to whom you can forward the summons and complaint by fax or email. Once you get the claim rep's name and phone number, don't wait until he/she calls you. You call and keep following up. Claim reps handle hundreds of files and get 5 - 10 new ones every day. A lawsuit gets priority but he has to know about it to do something about it.

 

Do this quickly as you typically don't have much time to file an answer.

 

 

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I want to thank you again for convincing me to call our insurance company again.  They are handling the issue and so far we are extremely pleased!  One of the attorneys came out to the house to take tons of photos and discuss the case.  They filed a spectacular answer with a dozen defenses and requested a jury trial if the judge won't dismiss.

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On 11/28/2018 at 11:24 AM, KMG said:

Our house is the lowest house on the street.  Our crazy neighbor just sued us for several thousand dollars because some day rain water may damage his property.

 

When it rains, the excess water flows down from his property to the side of our house, where it then goes out to the street or back yard.  His gutters point right at the side of our house.  Our gutters go into longer pipes that point to the front drain and back yard so our water keeps moving.  In our backyard, we dug a small brook that carries water out towards the woods where there is a natural spring.

 

I guess he is thinking that some day during torrential rains that enough of his rain water will pool against the side of our house and flow back uphill onto his property again and flood his basement.  He wants us to do something else on our property to handle his rain water.  I suggested calmly that he should take care of the rain water on his property, like also digging a small brook, because we didn't have a problem.

 

We called the county and they laughed because our property is lower than his.  We told a police officer friend and he suggested we sue him for harassment.

 

I have photos of the neighbor trespassing on our property.  He is a constant complainer, control freak, hates animals and threatened us a couple of weeks ago that he would get rid of our dogs just like he got rid of the neighbor's dog.  We are careful around him because other neighbors have told us that he actually shot 2-3 animals years ago.  Our dogs rarely go out, his recent complaints were actually about a stray pack of dogs, not ours, and we have photos of that as well.

 

I have to file our answer.  On the one hand, I just want to deal with the bogus water complaint and be done with it.  He has no damages, nothing has happened, and I don't think a property owner can tell another property owner that they have to something about rain.

 

However, we really want him to leave us alone.  We are wondering if we should countersue for harassment and ask the judge to issue a no trespass order.  I'd really like a tall privacy fence on our property line because he can see over our retaining wall and we are all uncomfortable in our backyard.  We just put in a new furnace/ac unit and are worried he could damage it out of retaliation for losing this case as well.

 

Thanks for any insights on how we can/should answer this complaint.

 

 

 

 

You should also counter sue to have his drain diverted away from your property.  You have real damages from him. 

 

Yes on the no trespass and harassment. 

 

If you don't put him in his place he will keep on with others.

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On 11/28/2018 at 12:04 PM, KMG said:

We called the county office responsible for streets and drainage.  He pulled up the elevation map and saw how much lower our property is.  Then he came out to make sure there wasn't something else the county should do.  

 

I agree with you about the police not understanding all legal issues.

 

I did call our homeowner's insurance.  We have a large deductible so we would end up paying for the attorney.  

 

Because the plaintiff has no damages, I can't imagine that we would lose, so I don't want to pay for an attorney.

Ask for attorney fees as well.

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5 hours ago, Mcdian said:

Ask for attorney fees as well.

 

Given that the general rule in American civil litigation is that each party bears his own legal fees, on what basis do you think the OP would have to successfully seek attorney's fees in this case? 

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On 2/4/2019 at 9:39 PM, Mcdian said:

You should also counter sue to have his drain diverted away from your property.  You have real damages from him. 

 

Yes on the no trespass and harassment. 

 

If you don't put him in his place he will keep on with others.

No, we are not filing a counterclaim because even though he is dumping water on our property, we don't have any real damages.  Maybe someday we will.

 

Our pretrial hearing is coming up soon, hoping the judge dismisses his complaint.

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The case has been continued and we did not have the scheduled pre-trial hearing.  His attorney is refiling the complaint in a higher court.  Our attorney believes it's to compel us to do something to our property.  He believes this is good for our side, because now he can depose the plaintiff and hire experts.  We have asked the attorney to file a counterclaim for whatever he can find.  He said he will as soon as the updated complaint is filed.  

 

We don't have any idea what the neighbor wants us to do.  And we can't imagine a judge or jury agreeing to force the lowest lying property to manage the higher property's rain water.  That would set a terrible precedent.

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16 hours ago, KMG said:

We don't have any idea what the neighbor wants us to do.  And we can't imagine a judge or jury agreeing to force the lowest lying property to manage the higher property's rain water.  That would set a terrible precedent.

 

I agree. Fortunately, this lawsuit isn't costing you anything so sit back and enjoy the show.

 

;)

 

You can keep coming back to this thread with updates no matter how long the case takes.

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Well, since both my lawsuits started at the same time, they might as well end at the same time.  This one was finally dropped.  The neighbor was extremely angry, he probably has a bit of dementia, according to his wife who snuck out to apologize to us.  A few days ago he trespassed again, going way back into a secluded wooded area, we were afraid he would fall and sue us for the house so we had to put up no trespassing signs.

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