Monday, June 02, 2014

Canada's monied Hatfield-McCoy feud!

Good Day Readers:

This story causes you to pause and reflect:

(1) What's the real genesis of the conflict. Was it simply Spot the dog dumping on their lawn or does it go much, much deeper? Like the Hatfield-McCoys they've likely been feuding for so long they can't remember where it all began
Better run Spot run before they catch you to turn you into pate. (War of the Roses - Michael Douglas/Kathleen Turner 1989)

(2) One of the those involved in the lawsuit is a Psychiatrist. Perhaps they should have organized a few group sessions

(3) Anyone can train a security camera on your front door 24/7/365 and there's nothing you can do. Whatever happened to panoramic views?

(4) That litigants could be so beyond stupid. Canadians everywhere must be laughing their faces off at them!

(5) That the justice system could be so beyond stupid to let such an asinine case into a courtroom

However, you must admit it does make for some amusing reading. A classic example of more money than brains.

A special thank you to the reader who first tracked down this case using the legal search engine CanLII then found its write up in the National Post.

Clare L. Pieuk
Judge's ruling smacks down wealthy Forest Hill families for 'acting like children'

By Joseph Brean
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Justice Ed Morgan seen in a 2002 file photo: "In my view, the parties do not need a judge; what they need is a rather stern kindergarten teacher." (National Post files)

In a legal ruling that is by turns sarcastic, exasperated, and downright hilarious, an Ontario judge has smacked down a lawsuit between two wealthy families in Toronto’s most exclusive neighbourhood, or as Justice Ed Morgan calls it, “tony Forest Hill… this leafy corner of paradise.”

“In my view, the parties do not need a judge; what they need is a rather stern kindergarten teacher,” he wrote. “They are acting like children.”

Pitting an oil executive and his wife against a psychiatrist and his, the case arose over a bag of dog excrement, allegedly deposited by Audrey Taerk in a garbage can belonging to her neighbours across the street, Paris and John Morland-Jones.
The Tarek home. They are accused by their neighbours of "mishehaving disturbing their peaceful life." (Tyler Anderson/National Post)

“And it goes downhill from there,” Mr. Justice Morgan wrote. In essence, the Morland-Joneses claimed the Taerks “have been misbehaving and disturbing their peaceful life,” a claim they document with security footage from cameras trained on the Taerks’ house, which the judge described as “more a sword than a shield.”

“Nothing that the [Taerks] do escapes the [Morland-Joneses’] video camera lens,” the ruling reads. “The [Morland-Joneses] can see when Ms. Taerk leaves to go shopping, they can study what the [Taerks] are wearing every morning when they pick up their newspaper on the front step, they have a videotaped record of when Mr. [Gary] Taerk goes to work or walks his dog, etc.”

The judge, former University of Toronto law professor Ed Morgan, also a former President of the Canadian Jewish Congress, was brutal in his dismissal of the Morland-Joneses’ case, not even awarding legal costs to the victorious Taerks, finding they “seem to relish playing” on the sensitivities of their neighbours, even taunting them by taking pictures of their own.

All these “hijinks” might make for a successful television show, the judge observed, “although probably limited to the cable channels high up in the 300’s.”

“As I explained to Plaintiffs’ counsel at the hearing, a court cannot order the Defendants to be nice to the Plaintiffs,” he wrote.
The home believed to belong to Paris and John Morland-Jones. (Tylor Anderson/National Post)

In mocking tone, peppered with biting asides, the judge describes how the “dog feces incident” led to a lawyer’s letter, an “erudite piece of legal correspondence” to which the Taerks did not reply.Each side apparently parks their cars, legally if annoyingly, in front of the other’s home. Ms. Taerk was accused of taking cell phone pictures of the Morland-Jones home, and even of their housekeeper walking the dog, which earned little sympathy from the judge, given the Morland-Joneses’ own blatant surveillance of the Taerks.

The tension has become so bad that, according to an affidavit by Mr. Taerk, Ms. Morland-Jones shouts profanity at him whenever he walks by, so he has taken to always carrying a voice recorder, held at the ready in his right hand.

“The controversy has even extended to other lucky residents,” the judge wrote. “The [Morland-Joneses] summoned… no less than four of their neighbours to testify on the pending motion, no doubt endearing themselves to all of them. One witness, a lawyer, was asked to confirm that he had warned the [Morland-Joneses] about the [Taerks] when they first moved into the neighbourhood; he responded that [he] can recall saying no such thing. Another witness, a professor, was asked to confirm that she sold her house for below market value just to get away from the Defendants; she said she did not.”
Nothing that the [Taerks] do escapes the [Morland-Jones'] video camera lens. Three can be seen on the side of the house. (Tyler Anderson/National Post)

The “piece de resistance,” as Mr. Justice Morgan observed, was the Morland-Joneses’ claim that Ms. Taerk sometimes stands in her driveway and looks at their house for several seconds, a claim backed by video.

“There is no denying that Ms. Taerk is guilty as charged. The camera doesn’t lie,” the judge wrote.

He decided that this accusation, like the others, does not belong in court.

“There is no claim for pooping and scooping into the neighbour’s garbage can, and there is no claim for letting Rover water the neighbour’s hedge,” he wrote.

There is no serious issue to be tried, he found, and each side must bear their own substantial legal costs.

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Morland-Jones v. Taerk, 2014 ONSC 3061


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