Monday, April 13, 2009

Feuding neighbours Canadian style!

Whatever happened to the 10th and 11 commandments - "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" and "Don't get caught?"

Ontario Judge's Ruling Forces A Ceasefire In Neighbourhood's Trench Warfare
Globe and Mail
April 13, 2009
A neighbourhood feud between two couples that has raged for 30 years ended with a judge's order that the provocateurs pay their victims more than $57,000 in damages.
In his ruling, Ontario Superior Court Judge Paul Kane found that Ahti and Maija Blick systematically undermined the structure of Lucien and Jacqueline Desjardins's garage and carport in Sudbury by digging deep trenches and running water under it, causing it to lean dramatically to one side.
He also found that there was strong evidence the Desjardins had been threatened and harassed via an inventive array of techniques, to the extent that they repeatedly tried to sell their home.
"Citizens of this country are not required to accept neighbours embedding injurious traps on their property, nor should they require guards of their home during temporary absences," Judge Kane said. "The above actions of Mr. Blick are unacceptable and shocking to two 70-year-old neighbours - and to this court."
In an interview yesterday, Ms. Desjardins said the couple is finally able to sleep at night. "I have been living a day at a time," she said. "My blood pressure has been up and I could have had a heart attack. It was even destroying our marriage. I feel bad about it [the judgment], but they brought it upon themselves."
Mr. Desjardins, 78, and his 74-year-old wife have lived beside the Blicks since 1968.
The feud began in earnest in 1978, after the Desjardins built a garage that the Blicks were convinced encroached on their property.
"Mr. Blick replied that either the plaintiffs move their garage, or he would," Judge Kane observed. "On more than one occasion, Mr. Blick gestured to the plaintiffs that their garage was leaning towards his property, would soon collapse, and laughed loudly. Mr. Blick has on at least one occasion taunted Mr. Desjardins and urged him to fight him."
Mr. Blick, who made his living in construction and carpentry, soon began to dig trenches and remove earth from under the garage in an attempt to undermine its stability. "In 2005, the defendants used temporary structures and tarps to cover the trenched area for reasons that lend some credence to the plaintiffs' belief that Mr. Blick was hiding his use of a garden hose to fill the trench with water and erode the soil beneath the garage floor slab," Judge Kane said.
He said Mr. Desjardins testified to having arrived home one day to find water inside the garage, which could only be explained by water being inserted under the floor slab and penetrating upward through cracks that began to appear after 2002.
Ms. Desjardins said in the interview that for years, she and her husband were afraid to go on vacation in their motor home for fear the Blicks would use the opportunity to do further damage to their garage.
Judge Kane also related a "potentially injurious incident," which allegedly occurred a few years ago, when Ms. Desjardins noticed Mr. Blick burying two-by-four planks beside a portion of their garage. "Mr. Desjardins, at his wife's request, dug up the two-by-fours and found that multiple 4½-inch nails were nailed through the wood, facing upwards," Judge Kane said.
The judge also noted that the Desjardins twice found containers of used oil placed near their well water. "They strongly suspect that they were placed there by the defendants to contaminate their water source," he said. "Their car has been scratched while in their driveway. A spare tire of their motor home parked at the back of their property has been cut and destroyed. Mr. Desjardins on one occasion, while walking near his home, believed that Mr. Blick was attempting to strike him while driving his motor vehicle."
The judgment calls for $5,000 in punitive damages, and the remaining amount for replacing larger portions of the garage and for a retaining wall.
Ms. Desjardins said she called the police seven times over the years, but claims to have received no help from them. She said the couple tried on three occasions to sell their home, but the feud has become such common knowledge in the region that nobody wanted to buy it.
Judge Kane concluded that the Blicks' overall credibility at the trial was not enhanced by the fact that the couple denied all wrongdoing. "Mr. Blick," he noted, "repeatedly smirked during the testimony of the plaintiffs and, on several occasions, signalled by a hand motion that the plaintiffs were crazy."
The Blicks, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, unsuccessfully countersued the Desjardins, claiming $10,000 for trespassing on their property.
Ms. Desjardins said all signs of warfare have now ceased: "It is finally quiet," she said. "They are finally understanding that they are going to pay."


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