National News

Case tossed in legal feud centred on dog doo

By Will Campbell, The Canadian Press

TORONTO - An Ontario judge has scolded feuding neighbours for acting like children in a lawsuit centred on the dirty deeds of a dog in their ritzy pocket of Toronto.

The justice writes that the "high point" of the civil claim made by one set of homeowners against their counterparts across the street was a "poop and scoop" that was apparently dropped by the dog owner in the rival neighbours' garbage can.

Evidence from a security camera of the dog urinating next to the bushes on the plaintiff's lawn in the posh Forest Hill neighbourhood was also submitted — and, as Justice Ed Morgan writes, the case went "downhill from there."

Court heard the beef stretched over several years and included complaints about the defendants parking their car in front of the plaintiffs' house, standing and staring at the residence or walking by it with an audio recorder to catch conversations.

Morgan writes the defendants — a psychiatrist and his wife — seemed to relish picking at the "sensitivities" of their neighbours — an oil executive and his wife — even going so far as to pretend to snap pictures of their house.

But the judge dismissed those peeves as not being worthy of a legal dispute and writes that what the couples need "is a rather stern kindergarten teacher" and not an appearance in his Superior Court hearing room.

"There is no claim for pooping and scooping into the neighbour's garbage can, and there is no claim for letting Rover water the neighbour's hedge," Morgan wrote in a ruling released Tuesday.

He scarcely concealed his distaste at the whole affair between two pairs of "educated professionals," plaintiffs Paris and John Morland-Jones and defendants Gary and Audrey Taerk.

"Despite their many advantages in life, however, they are acting like children. And now that the matter has taken up an entire day in what is already a crowded motions court, they are doing so at the taxpayers' expense."

Noting that the dispute drained both couples of "tens of thousands of dollars" in lawyers' fees, he declined to order either party to pay the other.

"Each side deserves to bear its own costs," Morgan wrote.

Morgan's scathing decision has become something of a hit online, and has earned the rare distinction of becoming a legal ruling that gets directly linked to by the Twitterverse.

CanLII, which posts Canadian judicial rulings, said that in less than two days the judgment has been viewed upwards of 17,000 times — eclipsing the usual 500 to 1,000 clicks that popular decisions draw in a week.

— With files from Allison Jones

Follow @willcampbll on Twitter

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