Autism lawsuit

Family Of Autistic Boy, 11, Sued By Neighbors Claiming The Child Is A ‘Public Nuisance,’ Judge Agrees

A California family was forced from their home after neighbors filed a lawsuit against them claiming their 11-year-old autistic son was a “public nuisance.” The neighbors also blamed the boy for a plummeting real estate market in the neighborhood and a judge seemed to agree by ordering an injunction be placed on the family which demanded they stop allowing their son to be a “nuisance.” Ultimately, the family decided to move to avoid further turmoil, but fear what the court order may mean for other families of disabled children.

The Daily Mail reports that one California family was driven from their home after neighbors declared their 11-year-old autistic son as a “public nuisance.” Vidyut Gopal and Parul Agrawal are in the middle of a lawsuit with their former neighbors in Sunnyvale, California. The lawsuit points to the couple’s autistic child as a public safety concern in the neighborhood and notes him as having a “chilling effect on the otherwise hot local real estate market.”

The family says that despite living in the quiet neighborhood for seven years, following the altercations with neighbors, they have no desire to return. In fact, they say the ordeal has been devastating. Prior to moving, a court ordered injunction was placed on the family which stated they must ensure their son is not a nuisance to others. The Santa Clara County Superior Court judge issued the injunction against the parents, saying that they must ensure their child does not attack anyone or damage property. As a result of the injunction, the family was told by neighbors to keep the child inside and away from other children in the neighborhood as it was a safety concern and he was hurting the real estate market.

Though a lawsuit may seem harsh, Mercury News reports that the neighbors say they did all they could before going to the courts. In fact, one neighbor, 61-year-old Sue Alford, says they attempted to talk to the family and voice their concerns but they didn’t have the same “point-0f-view.”

“It was painful. We all met with them and talked to them about their son, but they didn’t see our point of view. We wanted the street to be a safe place for other children.”

Concerns outlined by the neighbors included instances where the autistic boy had “pulled children’s hair, slapped a baby, purposely cycled into people, and had sat on a cat.” However, the boy’s parents say he had carers and was taking his medication as prescribed.

Jill Escher, president of the board of the Autism Society of the San Francisco Bay Area, says she is fearful for what this could mean to parents of autistic children. She claims that the precedent is now set for neighbors to file lawsuits at the “drop of a hat” and ultimately forcing them from being able to be in the streets at any given time.

What do you think about the “public nuisance” lawsuit against the autistic child’s family?

[Image Credit: Getty Images/ Mark Metcalfe]

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