Thursday, June 11, 2015

It's gonna cost you

Please tech your dogs to stop with the barking
Today's story is a two-part cautionary tale.  First, always take lawsuits seriously.  Second, do unto your neighbors as you would have them do unto you.

In today's news is a story about a woman in Seattle who was sued for letting her dog bark.  Seems woman was sued in superior court because her dog barked and barked and barked and barked until it bothered the guy next door and he filed a lawsuit against her.  For whatever reason, lady ignored the summons and forgot all about the lawsuit - until the sheriff started posting notices that her house was going to be put up for auction to satisfy the judgment of $500,000.

At this point, I'd like to address a few of the key quotes from the story linked above:

Quote #1)  "the Labor Department agency tasked with enforcing safe working conditions — says a person should not be exposed to a noise of 115 decibels for more than 15 minutes a day."  

In this case, the plaintiff alleged that the sound of the dog's barking topped out at 128 decibels.  Now THAT is a bark to take notice of.  Where I live, I've got a bunch of yapping dogs all around my place and it's really annoying to hear those dogs bark when I'm just walking around my yard.  Really, people - teach your dogs to bark when there is something to bark at - not just bark to hear themselves bark.  I swear the dog to the right is barking at the echo of his own bark.  Really, it gets annoying on so many levels really fast.

Quote #2)  "In my head, everything was so bogus that he’d been doing, I don’t know why, I just didn’t think it was real or something,” Norton told the local ABC News affiliate, KOMO-TV. That’s why, even when she was served with papers, Norton simply didn’t respond."  

So, the context here is that the dog's owner was served with a complaint/summons and she ignored it (in that she didn't respond to the complaint) hoping the "problem" would go away.  Right off, the dog owner is thinking that the person who filed the lawsuit is crazy ("bogus") and that that the "problem" is the person who filed the lawsuit, not her barking dog and the need to get her dog to stop barking (which is the underlying problem in the first place).

The other issue here is that everyone is bogus who doesn't love to hear a dog bark.  How many times did the neighbor ask the owner to get the dog to stop barking.  How many?!?  Two?  10?  100?  Why did it have to come to a lawsuit?!  It came to a lawsuit because you (the owner) refused to keep your barking dog silent - or, at least, bark less.  Because you refused to even look at the possibility that your dog was a excessively noisy animal, YOU perpetuated the problem and, as such, caused the owner to file a lawsuit.  Because you (the owner) wouldn't do anything to resolve the issue, the neighbor had to act to preserve his right to be secure in his property.

As such, the bogus person here is the owner of the dog - not the person driven batty by the battering of a barking dog.

Quote #3)  "Mike Fandel, a civil attorney unrelated to the case, explained to KOMO-TV that winning a frivolous lawsuit is easy when the other side doesn’t respond. Getting the case dismissed now that a judgment has been made, on the other hand, will be a challenge."   

Where do they get these legal experts.  Dang but this attorney is the reason there are so many lawyer jokes in the first place.  Plaintiff got tired of having to hear a barking dog and filed a lawsuit because the owners refused to teach the dog not to bark at the wind.  I'm betting neighbor asked the owners about it and the owners have blown him off not a few times.  The lawsuit is the last resort to a barking dog and its owner who is too arrogant to do something about said barking dog.  As such, this lawsuit is not frivolous but is a last ditched, desperate plea to have justice done.

What this esteemed member of the bar clandestinely suggested is that the judiciary has its head up its collective backside and allowed this case to go to judgment (for $500,000).  Had this barking dog case had no merit, the judge, in his/her discretion could have dropped the lawsuit and sent the guy packing.  What happened, instead, was because the dog owner ignored the judicial process, said dog owner forfeited their rights.  This is not a frivolous case simply because it is for so much money.  Fact is, every person has a right to be secure in their own person/property and not be bullied by anyone (especially an arrogant dog owner or a "civil" attorney who thinks his opinion matters more than a property owner who is tired of a constant bark).

And that, folks, is the crux of this case: should bullies be allowed to rule the world simply because they don't think they should have to bother with little things like lawsuits against them.  I don't think so and, apparently, neither does the Seattle judiciary.