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‘Frog-Phobic’ NY Man Receives $1.6M Jury Award

From the Associated Press:

Frog-phobic man awarded $1.6M over runoff flooding

April 8, 2013

CLARENCE, N.Y. (AP) — Paul Marinaccio Sr. traces his fear of frogs to a childhood incident in Italy when a man holding bullfrogs chased him away after he’d wandered from the vineyard where his parents worked.

Decades later, he found himself describing his phobia to a jury, calling himself "a prisoner in my own home" after runoff water from a nearby development turned his 40-acre property into wetlands and inundated it with frogs.

"I am petrified. I go home at night and I can’t get in my garage because of the frogs," Marinaccio testified in 2009. "They’re right in front of the damn door, OK?"

It was part of a seven-year legal fight involving Marinaccio, the town of Clarence and a developer that, according to The Buffalo News, finally ended last month when the state’s highest court ruled that Marinaccio, who was awarded $1.6 million in compensation after the 2009 trial, is not entitled to an additional $250,000 in punitive damages.

He was trying for more? Sheesh.

Marinaccio sued Clarence, a Buffalo suburb, and Kieffer Enterprises Inc. after runoff diverted onto Marinaccio’s property from a new Kieffer subdivision turned it into wetlands. A town engineer initially said the water would flow into a ditch elsewhere on Kieffer property. The town later discovered the ditch was actually on Marinaccio’s property, and that it was too small to handle the flow of water.

Lawyers on both sides said Monday that Marinaccio’s frog testimony amounted to just moments of a more than three-week trial — and may not have affected the jury’s award. The Court of Appeals, however, referred to it in a five-page decision in which it determined that while Marinaccio had been wronged, the developer hadn’t acted maliciously.

"This newly created wetland caused mosquitoes to breed and frogs to gather on plaintiff’s property, about which plaintiff is particularly phobic," the court wrote in an opinion dated March 21. "Consequently, plaintiff had problems traversing his property without the assistance of his family and friends, whom plaintiff would often call on to remove frogs from his driveway and near the door of his home."

"I’m petrified of the little creatures," Marinaccio, 65, said…

The lower court jury returned a verdict of $1.3 million against the town and $328,400 against Kieffer for compensatory damages, as well as $250,000 in punitive damages against Kieffer.

In reversing the punitive damages, the Court of Appeals said they are awarded only when there is evidence "of spite or malice, or a fraudulent or evil motive on the part of the defendant, or such a conscious and deliberate disregard of the interests of others that the conduct may be called willful or wanton."

As part of a post-verdict agreement, the town will dig ditches to help dry out Marinaccio’s land…

Still, frogs aside, doesn’t $1.6 million in damages seem a little excessive for having gotten some run-off water on your property? People need to stop trying to get rich by playing the lottery, and just take up suing people.

After all, why didn’t the town just take his land away from him, via public domain, and tell him to whistle Dixie?

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Tuesday, April 9th, 2013. Comments are currently closed.

4 Responses to “‘Frog-Phobic’ NY Man Receives $1.6M Jury Award”

  1. JohnMG

    …..”I’m petrified of the little creatures,” Marinaccio, 65, said…..”

    Well, I’m petrified I should run across a nit-wit like this and end up in court being sued for millions.

    Where’s MY money?

  2. canary

    Dead serious, this would not have happened in many cities in my state.

    They would have rewarded the company who created the “wetland” with federal stimulus money, worshiped the EPA “Wetland”, kept the frogs to eat the overpopulating mosquitoes and as not to disturb nature.

    They would have forced Marinaccio to sell his home and land at bottom dollar, depending if how old the home was, even if it passed the lead paint tests.

    For now, they don’t even question when “vinyl flooring” may have been glued down, the “glue” used had to have been the “toxic glue” unlike the new legal glue that contractors could be fined if they removed from the floor.

    And as far as those who build “new homes” and think they won’t run into a problem, the particle board being used is considered by the EPA to cause cancer. And the EPA keeps coming out with 200 new rules a day.

    We jut got our 3rd cart to recycle for “curbside” recycling. No wonder what they will cost, it’s size means a lot of work cutting that cardboard for old people who have difficulty with the one cart that has “no wheels” that years of complaining has not changed.

    The obsession with water and creating wetlands to create “50 years of water in case of a 50 year drought is at full blown. Of course you will be drinking and bathing in chemicals, and eating more food grown in deadly water like Mexico and even deadly Africa whom we are getting nuts imported from.

    The lower class will become poor from all this. Just like what’s happening in China and around the world.

    Paul Marinaccio Sr. traces his fear of frogs to a childhood incident in Italy when a man holding bullfrogs chased him away after he’d wandered from the vineyard where his parents worked.

    Decades later, he found himself describing his phobia to a jury, calling himself “a prisoner in my own home” after runoff water from a nearby development turned his 40-acre property into wetlands and inundated it with frogs

    Paul Marinaccio Sr. traces his fear of frogs to a childhood incident in Italy when a man holding bullfrogs chased him away after he’d wandered from the vineyard where his parents worked.

    Decades later, he found himself describing his phobia to a jury, calling himself “a prisoner in my own home” after runoff water from a nearby development turned his 40-acre property into wetlands and inundated it with frogs

  3. Froggy went a’courting uh huh uh huh …

  4. Astravogel

    Miss Mouse says he ain’t no frog, he’s a horny toad!


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