Woman with wasp allergy sues neighbor over rotten apples for $350,000
A woman has to pay £250,000($350,000) to her neighbor over a tree dropping rotten apples attracting wasps in her garden.
Barbara Pilcher, who lives in Dunsfold, near Godalming since 2010, sued her neighbor Antoinette Williams following a rotten incident. An apple tree belonging to Mrs. Williams dumped decaying apples into Mrs. Piltcher’s garden. The bigger problem was Barbara’s allergy to wasps, which were inevitably attracted by the rotting fruits.
This kept repeating each season, bringing swathes of wasps to Mrs. Plitcher’s property. She eventually decided to sue her neighbor, who, in her words, acted like a “school bully” about the situation. For instance, Mrs. Williams repeatedly stared at Barbara through her window to monitor her comings and goings and sometimes followed her relatives after they had visited.
After years of attempts, the court finally decided in favor of Mrs. Pilcher, ordering Antoinette to pay costs and damages amounting to around £250,000($350,000). The ruling followed a five-day trial at Central London County Court.
The first altercation between the two neighbors was in 2014.
At the time, Mrs. Williams refused to cut the apple tree despite Mrs. Pilcher’s requests. As per Daily Mail, Barbara was unable to use the bottom of her garden and was made to feel “like a prisoner in her own home” because of her neighbor’s ignorance.
According to Oliver Newman, Mrs. Pilcher’s attorney, her relatives stopped visiting because of her escalating feud with Mrs. Williams. He told the court:
“Upon Mrs. Williams’ refusal to cut the tree back, Mrs. Pilcher exercised her right to do so in June 2014, which resulted in a barrage of allegations from Mrs. Williams that she had cut the tree at an inappropriate time, cut it back too far and had caused a poor harvest.
Due to this and Mrs. Williams’ other behavior which upset Mrs. Pilcher and led her to fear confrontation, she subsequently felt unable to exercise her rights for fear of Mrs. Williams’ reaction.
Mrs. Pilcher has as a result been left unable to use the bottom of her garden due to the smell from rotting apples and the composters, the fear of falling apples, and the fear of wasps, having been hospitalized in 2018 after being stung multiple times by wasps from a nearby wasps’ nest.”
Mrs. Pilcher also claimed damages for alleged nuisance over the apples. However, Judge Lawrence Cohen said this was resolved after Mrs. Williams “agreed to have the tree professionally pruned.”
Barbara was awarded £12,000($16,500) in compensation for seven years of harassment that left her “dreading coming home.”
One of her daughters revealed how her “creepy” neighbor once trailed Barbara outside when she took her granddaughter to a nearby playground. But instead of admitting to the allegations, Mrs. Williams accused her neighbor of having mental health issues.
Nevertheless, the judge said Antoinette’s behavior was “completely abnormal and disturbing.” Meanwhile, he added that she had also become obsessed with the idea that Barbara was intentionally blocking her parking rights.
Back in 2015, she even produced a camera and tape measure to record the space taken up by Mrs. Pilcher’s car. She later drove her vehicle to Barbara’s home, churning up her grass. But even though the incident was caught on CCTV, Antoinette denied the accusations and said she was fairly reasonable when complaining about her parking space being obstructed.
Again, Judge Cohen didn’t believe Mrs. Williams. He described her actions as “disgraceful” vandalism, adding that this particular incident provided a “valuable insight” into her character.
The judge added:
“There is strong evidence of Mrs. Williams behaving in a vindictive way towards Mrs. Pilcher deliberately to alarm and distress her and that she is lacking in self-control. I have not found Mrs. Williams to be a reliable witness.
She [Mrs. Pilcher] dreads coming home, her daughter does not want to stay with her anymore and other young family members either do not want to visit her or, if they are brought to visit, need to be sheltered from the offensive conduct.”
Following the trial, Mrs. Williams was ordered to pay costs estimated to be between £135,000 and £180,000($185,000 – $247,000) towards her legal fees, as well as more than £100,000($137,000) for covering her own lawyers’ bills.