Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

February 7, 2005

Suing Nice Neighbors (Update #1)

Filed under: — Different River @ 7:20 pm

If you haven’t already, read the post below before reading this one. These are all updates to that one.

  1. I should have mentioned this more explicitly before, but this lawsuit was filed and decided in Small Claims Court. I don’t know if this means the same thing in Colorado that it means in some other places, but if it does, it means the case was filed without a lawyer. From this we can conclude:

    1. It is possible to file a completely frivolous and idiotic lawsuit without consulting a lawyer. (I’m not sure if this make the legal system look better or worse!); and

    2. It is possible for a judge to make a completely idiotic decision, allowing a completely frivolous and idiotic lawsuit to succeed, without being boxed in by complex briefs filed by lawyers. (I know this makes the legal system look worse!)

  2. Switchboard alert: There is at least one other “W. Young” in Durango, one William H. Young Jr. It’s not clear if William H. Young, Jr. is related to Wanita Renea Young. It’s possible the phone listing for “W. Young” refers to either or both of them. Wanita’s husband’s first name is “Herb”; that could be short for what the “H.” stands for. Or not.

  3. The Durango Herald has a story with more details here, including pictures of both the plaintiff (who was the “victim” of the free cookies) and the defendents (the girls who made the cookies). It also has expanded versions of quotes in the previous story, such as:

    “This has turned into quite a fiasco,” Young said. “It’s something that never should have happened and it’s just devastating. My phone hasn’t stopped ringing. My life has been threatened and I’ll probably have to move out of town.

    Wanita, if you “have to” move out of town, it’s not because they knocked on your door, it’s because you sued the girls for giving you some freshly-baked cookies! Now don’t go suing for moving costs or something!

    “All I wanted was for those girls to admit that they used poor judgment and apologize in person. If they had done that, I wouldn’t have even asked for the money. I just hope they learned a lesson.”

    Let me get this straight: They knocked on your door once to do something nice (free freshly-baked cookies), and you called the police. So, now, you want them to knock on your door again to apologize “in person”? What do you think they are, crazy? So they are quite reasonably afraid to knock on your door again … so you sue them?

    And then you wonder why people in Durango thing you might not be the best neighbor to have?

    I just hope Wanita learns a lesson. I’m not betting on it, though.

  4. The Durango Herald story also has the following nice tidbit:

    Denver radio station KOA-AM raised more than $1,900 from listeners Friday to pay the girls’ $930.78 fine. The remaining sum will go to a charity dedicated to victims of the Columbine High School massacre.

    I bet the Youngs are sore about that, too. I mean, what kind of “lesson” are the girls going to learn from that? That if you do a nasty mean thing like give someone some cookies, you won’t have to pay the consequences?

    And there is this:

    As the radio station raised the money, Taylor Ostergaard and Lindsey Zellitti, both 18, flew to New York City to tape a segment about the cookie caper for ABC’s “Good Morning America.” But not before the father of one of the girls filed a restraining order against the husband of the litigious neighbor.

    Richard Ostergaard successfully filed a restraining order against Young’s husband, Herb, on Friday afternoon in county court, claiming he continues to make harassing telephone calls to the Ostergaard residence.

    Harassing them for what? Losing the lawsuit?

  5. The “Good Morning America” story is here. Nice summary of the ending, and a picture.

  6. And there’s a follow-up story here, with offers of an appearance on Jay Leno, an event by the Otis Spunkmeyer cookie-making company, and a whole bunch of creative insults. (Is Wanita a “cookie monster” or a “cookie batterer”?)

  7. The folks on Dave Barry’s blog are having quite a time of this here and here. One of them suggested this was an appropriate time to use this product.

OK, enough cookie-blogging for now. I think I’m gaining weight just from thinking about all this.

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