A Seattle woman is about to lose her home after an angry neighbor filed a lawsuit stating he suffered “profound emotional distress” due to her dog’s loud barking. The courts awarded the neighbor $500,000 in a default judgement, and now a lien has been placed on the woman’s home.
KOMO reports that Denise Norton is “flabbergasted” at the fact that her dog, Cawper, may cost her over $500,000 after a neighbor filed a “frivolous” lawsuit claiming “profound emotional distress” due to the dog’s barking. Denise’s angry neighbors filed a 36-page lawsuit that claims the dog was responsible for “raucously, wildly bellowing, howling and explosively barking.” The lawsuit also claims that the dog’s barks could reach a staggering 128 decibels, the same decibels as a jet engine, through double pane windows.
When Denise originally received a copy of the lawsuit, she says it was so outrageous that she thought it was a joke.
“In my head, everything was so bogus that he’d been doing, I don’t know why, I just didn’t think it was real or something.”
Therefore, Denise did not respond to the lawsuit, and the judge was forced to give a default judgment in the case — a startling $500,000. Norton says that she takes full responsibility for not responding to the suit. However, she is now working in an attempt to have the decision reversed. After the lien on her home became official, a sheriff came to her house and affixed a letter stating the home would be sold to pay the judgment. Denise appeared in court and has been battling for months to save her home.
According to the Daily Mail, Mike Fandel, a civil attorney who has no ties to the case, says that the $500,000 judgement was legal and official.
“You can bring a frivolous lawsuit and win if the other side doesn’t show up.”
Denise says that the default ruling is her fault as she did not show up, but says that the whole issues was overblown, noting that a barking dog is not a $500,000 issue.
“How can you give somebody a half-a-million-dollar lien over a dog barking? He’s just a loving, nice dog.”
Norton says she will continue to fight to have the case overturned but notes that the legal fees have drained her savings account.
What do you think about a $500,000 default judgment in a dog barking case? Should the judge reverse the decision now that Denise is responding to the lawsuit or is it too little too late for the Seattle dog owner?