legal humor the cases

Neighbors from hell: worse than robots?

My property professor assigned a hilarious “neighbor from hell” case. The court uses very unique phrase to describe the annoying conduct:

That the acts were done by defendants in person makes them even more culpable, more dreadful and repulsive than if robots had acted.
Here’s why you should be grateful you don’t live next to the Northridge family:

Immediately following plaintiffs’ occupancy of their home defendants commenced a course of exhibiting malice toward plaintiffs by both words and deeds.

Mrs. Northridge trespassed upon flower beds of plaintiffs, ground her heel into the flowers and removed plaintiffs’ only blooming hibiscus plant from a flower pot.

Defendants removed their garbage can from the place originally constructed for it on the east side of the Northridge home and placed it on the west side, against the property line and almost directly under plaintiffs’ dining room window.

They raised a line along the common boundary to which they tied many tin can tops which by their constant clanging caused plaintiffs to be annoyed in the daytime and to be kept awake at night. They wilfully caused paint to be cast upon the walls and windows of plaintiffs’ home.

To add insult to injury, at many times and on divers occasions Mrs. Northridge approached the common property line and called to Mrs. Griffin that she was a ‘tin-pan-alley queen,’ ‘cheap people,’ ‘dirty people,’ ‘a sloppy wench,’ ‘a sloppy huzzy,’ ‘an alley cat,’ and by directing to her such statements as ‘There you go you old sloppy wench with your trash’; ‘Why don’t you do something about your figure?’ ‘Why don’t you spend a little of your dirty money to have your car washed?’ Also, at times, while the Griffins were entertaining friends she advanced to plaintiffs’ windows, screamed that plaintiffs’ guests had parked their cars in front of defendants’ property and demanded their removal.

Along and by the common property line defendants planted eucalyptus trees which grew to some 18 feet in height. They obstructed the eastward view from plaintiffs’ home, deprived plaintiffs of light and air, and sent their roots beneath the soil of the Griffin lot and imperiled the foundations of plaintiffs’ residence.

During the period of plaintiffs’ occupancy of their property defendants maintained a wall adjacent to the common property line with huge dirt and concrete foundations with an ugly, hideous board fence upon it, which obstructed the sun, light, ventilation and view for portions of the Griffin home and which wall so excluded sunlight from the plants on the east side of the Griffin lot as to cause them to die.

And to crown their deeds with a shocking display of ill-will they exposed the fangs of their malice by dissuading a buyer from completing her acquisition of plaintiffs’ home after she had deposited $1,000 on the purchase price. These acts of defendants were done with malice and with intent to harm and injure plaintiffs in the peaceful occupancy of their home.

Plaintiffs declared that the alleged acts constituted a nuisance and demanded the abatement thereof with damages. But prior to the trial they sold their home and submitted only their prayer for damages which were assessed in the sum of $1,000 without comment as to what portion of the award was by way of punishment.

The financial value of the trespasses committed, of plants or flowers destroyed, of walls and windows marred by paint, of peace and quiet disturbed, of cruel epithets spoken, of unsightly walls that precluded view and darkened the home, of the spreading roots of the eucalypti-the detriment caused by any one of these factors measured by its money value alone is of little importance in appraising the sum total of them all as a nuisance to those who occupy the adjoining home.

The case never explains why exactly the neighbors were so nasty. I couldn’t find any law review articles about this either…

Griffin v. Northridge, 67 Cal. App. 2d 69 (Cal. App. 1944)

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