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Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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My new next door neighbor (since 1/1/13) is making our lives

Resolved Question:

My new next door neighbor (since 1/1/13) is making our lives miserable. We've lived in our home for 9 years without a single complaint by any of the neighbors...he moves in and the sheriff has been to my house 3 times now, animal services and county code enforcement once each as well - for 'nothing' complaints.

Though he wouldn't know it, because he refuses to converse with me/us, I've made some adjustments to the door frames in our house so they don't close 'loudly'; I've twice offered for him to come talk to me face to face, calmly about what is bothering him that go ignored, or are countered with childish, inflammatory remarks and boarding up his windows on the side of his house adjacent to our property.

It is clear that he has no interest in trying to pursue a peaceful solution. He's also exhibited signs/symptoms of mental instability - extreme paranoia, anger management issues... Are there any legal solutions available to help stop his harassment? (Pinellas County, FL)
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Alex J. Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Hello. My name isXXXXX am a Florida licensed attorney and I will be happy to answer your question.

I am sorry to hear about this unfortunate situation.

Were all of the complaints made by this neighbor found unfounded or false by the authorities?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Alex,


 


The code enforcement person had findings: debris, lawn mowing, and an inoperable car in the driveway - which were addressed within a week of his visit. The other two are my land lord's responsibility and 'due' 4/21.


 


Sheriff visit for 'suspicion of residents smoking spice' - unfounded/false (we smoke clove cigars on the front porch)


 


Animal services visit for complaint of animal cruelty - unfounded/false; officer inspected all and found that they are healthy and happy


 


Sheriff visit today, excess noise - false


 


I apologize, the 3rd sheriff visit was a call that I made to them for assistance talking with him about his angry outbursts, in particular when he was SLAMMING on the fence (so loud it sounded like gun shot)


 


The majority of his outbursts - from what I can hear clearly amongst the profanity and insults - relate to a perception that we are slamming doors at all hours of the night, keeping him awake.


 


The house is older, and the doors often don't shut gracefully; a couple of weeks ago I placed felt lining in all of the door jams to help reduce any possible noise that could be misconstrued as slamming. He still insists that he is kept awake from slamming doors - at or during hours when we are all inside and asleep.


 


None of the prior neighbors had issues - I had friendly relationships with both 'sets' for the years that they each lived there; if something seemed out of the ordinary, they'd come make sure we were ok etc.


 


Please let me know if you have further questions, and thank you!


Elizabeth

Expert:  Alex J. Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Dear Elizabet,

Thank you for your detailed response. It helped me better understand your situation.

Was this neighbor ever violent toward you or your household members or made any threats of violence?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Alex,


 


No, there hasn't been violence directly towards us at this point. Just his frequent outbursts (2 or 3 times per week) of insults, profanity and slamming things around - on his own property.


 


Part of why I'm requesting legal advice is to try and head off / prevent further escalations.


 


Thanks,


Elizabeth

Expert:  Alex J. Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Dear Elizabet,

Unfortunately, we are not permitted to provide JustAnswer.com customers with any type of legal advice or legal service, due to the JustAnswer.com terms of service and various state laws, and such legal advice can only be provided by your local attorney upon a full review of your situation and unfortunately I am only limited to providing JustAnswer.com customers with general answers,based on the basic principles of law.

Please let me know at this time whether you are seeking a legal advice or you are willing to receive a general answer.

Thanks.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I was hoping to receive general guidance / advice to know whether or not to proceed with further action; and what types of services might be available/where to find them to help me with this situation.

Expert:  Alex J. Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Dear Elizabet,

Thank you for your follow up.

Since it appears that you are requesting a legal advice, I will opt-out at no charge and will open your question to other legal professionals.

Thank you for using JustAnswer.com
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Hello friend,

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I am another expert with Justanswer.

Someone in your situation essentially has three remedies available to them. Let us discuss them all.

STAND ALONE RESTRAINING ORDER
The first thing that one needs to be aware of is that an individual always has the option of requesting a restraining order, known as an Injunction for Protection Against Stalking/Cyberstalking in Florida.

This may be requested for an instances of harassment. Harassment is when someone commits a series of acts over a period of time against you, which causes you to have substantial emotional distress, and the acts serve no legitimate purpose. Fla. Stat. § 784.048 et seq.

If their complaints are baseless and they are beginning to seriously harass you, this may be an option. Such a restraining order request can be filed in Court. They would then be served, and the Judge makes a decision. If they are ordered restrained from you, then their continuous allegations will receive less and less consideration from the authorities. They may also be prosecuted for breaching the restraining order.

SUIT FOR DAMAGES AND AN INJUNCTION
In a variation to the matter, one has the option of filing an actual lawsuit. To sue in state court, one needs to have a "cause of action." There are numerous causes of action, such as "breach of contract," "negligence," "fraud," "unjust enrichment," etc., as well as causes of action rooted in statutory law. Every state has their own although they are very similar to each other in every state. Every cause of action has its own elements, and each element has to be satisfied for a cause of action to be successful in court.

Here, their actions may be the basis for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Under Florida law, the elements of a defamation claim are: (a) the defendant published a false statement; (b) about the plaintiff; (c) to a third party; and (d) the falsity of the statement caused injury to the plaintiff. Border Collie Rescue v. Ryan, 418 F.Supp.2d 1330, 1348 (M.D.Fla. 2006).

To establish a cause of action for the intentional infliction of emotional distress, four elements must be proven: (a) deliberate or reckless infliction of mental suffering; (b) outrageous conduct; (c) the conduct must have caused the emotional distress; and (d) the distress must be severe. Dominguez v. Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States, 438 So.2d 58 (Fla. 3rd DCA 1983), approved, 467 So.2d 281 (Fla. 1985).

An injunction may be requested, first temporarily, and then permanently, as part of the suit. Punitive damages may also be available.

CRIMINAL COMPLAINT
Finally, know that if they begin to trespass unto your land or actively threaten you, calling 9-1-1 should not be an issue, provided that the apprehension is reasonable that they may become violent. The authorities may then initiate a criminal investigation.

ATTORNEY AND A 'CEASE AND DESIST LETTER' - THE SENSIBLE APPROACH TO AN INSENSIBLE NEIGHBOR
Very often, a letter threatening a lawsuit unless they cease and desist may work the matter, even without the need to file litigation. A letter coming from an attorney helps, because it carries more 'gravitas.'

May I recommend the FL Bar referral program - here. The attorneys are vetted and qualified. You should be able to find an attorney you are confident with and whom you can trust, and who is available ASAP.

I hope this helps and clarifies. Good luck.

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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 89093
Experience: Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
Ely and 8 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Ely,


 


I had no further questions and rated your service as Excellent.


 


This is exactly the information I was looking for: What possible remedies are available. I'm currently waiting to hear back from a couple of local lawyer referral services, and plan to pursue attorney Cease/Desist letter and/or injunction filing (depending on neighbor's reaction to attorney letter).


 


Thanks so much for your help!!


 


Regards,


Elizabeth

Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Hello E,

Thank you for your touching base. You may have received an "automated" message from the site. I did not send one. But I am glad that you received the information you needed - best of luck.

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Ely
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