Intentional infliction of emotional distress, Need advice!

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Latest post 06-13-2011 5:24 PM by Just the Facts. 4 replies.
  • 06-13-2011 5:00 AM

    Intentional infliction of emotional distress, Need advice!

    Based on the letter I am about to post I need to know if I have a case for any type of lawsuit as this situation has completely destroyed me emotionally, wrecked my view of authority and trust in the system. Please read on and let me know your opinion. I have blacked out any identifying information.

    Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE

    June 12, 2011

    To whom it may concern,

    I am writing this letter in the hopes I will be heard about a very concerning matter in which I believe I am being harassed by an ex council member and a code enforcement officer. This is long story which started a couple months ago, and I am at my wits end about what to do to be left alone. This is a story of Selective enforcement, false accusations, and harassment using the city’s resources and an abuse of power to attempt to push me out of my home.

    Let me start off by telling you a little about myself. My name is Jamie Smith and I have lived in ******* WA and the surrounding areas most of my adult life. Most recently I worked for a company called ********** where companies such as T-mobile and Google contracted with me for their tier 3 technical support needs. After huge layoffs in May of 2010 I decided to change careers and go back to school. I am currently attending *********** Community College in order to obtain my degree in Networking and Digital Forensics. I am about a year in to my studies and am holding a 3.7 GPA. I am the mother of 4 children and step mother to 2 more with the oldest being 11 and the youngest 3.  As you can imagine, having 6 children and going to school full time can be quite a challenge, but I take pride in the fact I successfully do both with the support of my surrounding family and friends. My fiancé is also attending school, completing his prerequisites before attending ******* Technical Institute where he will specialize in video game design. 

    My home is shared with me, my father in law, my fiancé, and my children. We rent the home and have lived here for going on 2 years now. My father in law moved in about 6 months ago after suffering some medical issues that needed to be monitored. We are friends with most all of our neighbors as my life long friends parents, Georgia and Bradley Newton, have lived about a half a block away for close to 30 years. We have a few animals, 2 dogs of our own, Lexington and Onyx, and my father in law has a dog named Snoopy. We have 2 cats Grey and Ripley, 2 chinchillas and a rabbit. All the animals are well behaved, licensed, and up to date on all veterinary care.

    Our problems began on or around February 7th, 2011. Around 5 pm a lady showed up at my door and began talking to my baby sitter in regards to a concern about my dogs barking. The lady identified herself as the owner of the home next door and her demeanor was concerning to say the least. She was irate, yelling and screaming at the top of her lungs leaving my sitter and the children whom were standing right there scared and confused. I was around the corner in the back yard when I heard the commotion and came around to the front. My baby sitter advised me about what was going on, and I began talking to the woman calmly. She explained to me (still yelling) that she was the landlord of the property next door and that she was there to get the house ready for her new tenants. She claimed my dogs had been barking since 5 am and that it was unacceptable and she would be calling the police about it. I apologized to her profusely about the inconvenience and attempted to explain to her that she must be mistaken because I hadn’t even let my dogs outside to play until 10:00 am that morning and that they only bark when another dog walks by. I told her that I would be willing to remedy the situation by purchasing bark collars the next morning. She kept yelling at me that that wasn’t good enough and she was still going to call the police. I enquired as to why she would call the police when I was trying to remedy the situation all she could say was “because I can”. I told her I have no control over what she wanted to do, but the last thing I want is to fight with my neighbors. I have lived here for over a year and a half at that point and have never had one complaint about my dogs barking, or any other complaint for that matter. I kept trying to reassure her that I would take care of the situation and that I would bring the dogs in for the rest of the evening. She yelled that she wouldn’t be satisfied until I didn’t have my dogs anymore. The most concerning part of this whole situation was her erratic and unpredictable behavior. I could understand if this was the second or third time I had heard from her concerning the dogs and she had lost her patience, but this was the first time I had ever laid eyes on her. She stormed off back to her property which joins ours by connecting back yards.

    A couple days prior to this incident we had a garage sale over the weekend.  The leftover items were going to the dump so we also cleaned out our garage and brought anything that needed to go out to the front porch where it wouldn’t get rained on causing our load to be heavier. We had a camper parked out in front of our home parked on the side of the house it had been parked there for over a year. A friend also brought a second camper over to attempt to sell it at the garage sale. On February 10th, 2011, just a couple days after the incident with the landlord we received our first Notice of Violation from Code Enforcement Officer ***** *****. The violation stated that the city had received a complaint about Debris or trash accumulated under the carport, motor vehicles that are junk or inoperable, recreational vehicles stored in the front yard, and that the recreational vehicle must be in good repair (no broken windows, rust covering over 10% of vehicle etc.)

    I contacted Officer ******* in regards to the notice as he drove by taking pictures of the property. I explained to him the situation and that the following weekend we would be going to the dump and that we would gladly move the recreational vehicles to the rear of the property. He told me that was acceptable and gave me some information on some codes I was not aware of. He let me know I am not able to use more than 50% of my driveway for parking, I am not allowed to store anything under my porch, the recreational vehicles need to be 5 feet away from the house and not hooked up to any power or water. I did tell the officer about the concern I had that this is all due to an argument I got in to with the neighbor and he informed me that he was not allowed to release the caller’s information in fear of retaliation. I followed all his instructions and we went to the dump that weekend, moved the trailers to the rear of the property.

    A couple days later on February 14th 2011 I received a notice from the city in regards to my dogs. The complaint was filed by an anonymous female caller who claimed I let my dogs run at large and the dogs were not licensed.  We were aware of the licensing laws, but these dogs were new dogs to us (at the time they were 4.5 months old) and we had owned them less than 30 days. According to the laws, we must have them licensed within 30 days of purchasing the dogs. The following day, on Feb. 15th 2011 I went down to the police station and purchased licenses for the 2 dogs and explained to them that I have never let my dogs out of my yard.

    All was quiet for a couple weeks and we assumed that the worst was over. Apparently it was the calm before the storm. On April 28th 2011 we received another Notice of Violation with photos for my van which had been put on jacks the day before in an attempt to fix it. The car had broken down after overheating about 3 days prior. Also on the notice was a picture of a couch we had moved out to the front porch the night before to make room for the 2 new couches that I had purchased a few days prior. Also pictured was about 6-7 boxes broken down flat from the couches that were delivered that would not fit in the recycle bin.  Cited in the Violation notices were “Debris and trash” again referring to the cardboard boxes awaiting recycling, “Garbage not kept in proper receptacle with tight fitting lid” again, the boxes for recycling.  “Broken or discarded household furniture not in an approved enclosed structure”,  “Leaving vehicles unattended on blocks, jacks, ramps or otherwise elevated above ground is prohibited” (The car had been broken down for 3 days and had only been unattended for a couple hours while my fiancé ran to get the parts).

    We removed the car from the ramps that evening after my fiancé was finished working on it. We brought the couch and the recycling to the dump on Saturday May 14th.

     On May 10th 2011 I received a notice from the City Mountlake Terrace building code enforcement that it had come to the city’s attention via an anonymous caller that the garage at my household was being used for habitation. They received a call that complained there is cable extended to the garage and there is a TV inside. I immediately contacted ***** ******* to clear the matter up. I explained to her that our garage is not used for habitation, that the garage has been converted to an entertainment room complete with cable, a foosball table, pool table and couches. Mrs. ******** explained to me that it is policy for the city to come check and I made an appointment at the earliest convenience of the city which was a few days post complaint. The city worker came over, examined the area and concluded that the garage was indeed solely used as an entertainment center as described. I explained to the city worker the problems we had been having with the neighbor and this was most likely due to this. I inquired as to whom may have contacted them and he also explained it was an anonymous caller and he was unable to give me any information. I half jokingly aired my concerns as to “what is next, false reports to CPS?.”

    On May 19th 2011 I again received another notice from Officer **** with code enforcement for further violations of codes. Upon examining this report it was noticed that almost every “violation” had already been remedied as of April 29th and the code enforcement officer had used the exact same pictures as the notice of violation dated April 28th 2011, all of the images shown are numbered. The images in question are as follows. 

    (April 28th 2011) IMG_0706.JPG showing the couch and the boxes waiting for recycle. IMG_0707.JPG showing my vehicle on jacks while being worked on. IMG_0708.JPG showing another photo of the couch and boxes awaiting recycle. IMG_0709.JPG showing another image of my car on jacks/ramps.

    (May 19th 2011) Images expressing “new violations”. IMG_0707.JPG Same as the April 28th photo. IMG_0708.JPG Same as the April 28th photo. IMG_0709.JPG Same as the April 28th photo. New image IMG_0756.JPG showing my car no longer on jacks. No other new photo’s are presented.

    On the May 19th Notice of violation the following conditions are listed. “Debris and Trash”(Boxes for recycling was taken to the dump on May 14th) “Broken or discarded furniture”(Couch was taken to the dump May 14th)“vehicles that are inoperable for more than 30 days” (Still less than 30 days at the time that the car has been inoperable) and “Motor vehicles belonging to persons other than the resident may not be stored on property” (The car is mine, but under my sisters name). All of these violations at this time were either false or non existent. The officer manipulated the violation order by reusing the photographs from the previous violation.  All of these “violation notices” are available for review.

    On June 3rd 2011 my worst fear came to reality. ***** **** from Child Protective Services came to my door explaining that Child Protective Services received a call with concerns about the conditions inside the home. I was in complete shock. Jeff had already been to the school and interviewed my children, and came over to visit the home. I explained to him as well that we have been being harassed by someone and this has to have something to do with it. He stated he also was not able to give me the name of the caller, but what he could tell me is it is a mandatory reporter that was not the school, and the report was made within the week. The only mandatory reporter that has had anything to do with our home in months is Officer ******. Not only have my children not needed a doctor in a few months, they have not been to daycare for a few weeks now that my school schedule doesn’t conflict with their care.  Not to mention they have been going to the same childcare for close to 8 years and there have never been any prior complaints or concerns.

    The CPS worker searched my home and it is in good order. The cupboards are full of food, the children are clean, the house is clean and in good condition.  He explained he plans to close the case. I immediately went down to the CPS office to retrieve the report.  Since this happened so recently I will be unable to receive the report for up to 90 days after the case is closed. I do realize I have to wait for the full report to be able to see who called them for sure, but this is the only scenario that makes sense. In order for the false report not to be a crime, the officer must have made the report in good faith. The officer has never been inside my home, and there is nothing outside the home to suggest that the inside of the home is deplorable in condition, which in turn would mean if it was Officer ***** that made the report it was not acting in good faith, which is a criminal offence.

    On June 10th 2011, I received yet another notice of violation from Officer *****. This violation notice cited 2 violations of code and 4 photographs. The violations of code are as follows “Debris and trash” Accumulations of broken or neglected items, litter, salvage materials and junk not in an approved enclosed structure. There are 2 pictures in regards to this code violation. IMG_0805.jpg and IMG_0804.JPG which depict a city sign that was found behind my garage leaning up against the side wall of my home. This sign is a “notice of land use action” sign that had been left behind the garage since before we moved in. The sign was moved there to be disposed of after I called the city to see if it was proper to dispose of the sign myself, or if the city needed to retrieve it . It was not an accumulation of debris or garbage, junk or salvaged items.

    The second violation was in regards to my van which the tabs expired on April 30th which is now being stored until I can properly dispose of it. I am waiting for the title to be sent to me in the mail in order to dispose of it through junkyard removal. The car has now as of May 26th been inoperable more than 30 days. This brings up the subject of selective enforcement. On a walk within a block radius of my home I have now taken over a dozen photos that show the same “violations” that I am being accused of. I also took the liberty of going within a couple block radius of the police station. At the other end of my street there is a car, under a carport with tabs that expired January 2011. Across the street there is a car that has been totaled under a tarp that has been sitting in the driveway for almost a year. There are numerous homes with debris in their driveway/carport or in their back yards. I visited each one of the homes and asked if they had been ticketed or had notices of violations and their answers were all the same. No. It is not my interest to get any of these people involved or in trouble, but to prove I am being harassed I will do so. The photo’s are attached. 

    On June 11th 2011 I was visited by my landlords. They had received a notice from the city for the last “Violation order” dated June 8th. Upon their inspection they found the home in good order and the only request is the cars removal. I assured them that I would be removing the car as soon as I received the title. Upon explaining to them how and why this all started they informed me that the landlord I got in to an argument with about the dogs was a city councilwoman by the name of *********.  After doing some research I came across a photo taken by the Seattle Times and I can say with certainty that this was the woman. After a little more research in to the Mountlake Terrace City Council meeting minutes, it is obvious that both the ex councilwoman and the code enforcement officer know each other which not only answers a lot of questions of my harassment but raises a lot of questions as well. When you are an officer of the law, and a Councilwoman (ex or not) you are held to the highest standard of ethics. Trying to push a family out of their home or harass them in to leaving is neither ethical nor moral.

    All I am hoping for with this letter is that the harassment will cease and desist. That the selective enforcement will end and that me and my family will be left alone to live in peace. We enjoy our neighborhood and love our neighbors.

  • 06-13-2011 8:52 AM In reply to

    Re: Intentional infliction of emotional distress, Need advice!

    Jamers2004:
    Based on the letter I am about to post I need to know if I have a case for any type of lawsuit as this situation has completely destroyed me emotionally, wrecked my view of authority and trust in the system.

    I see nothing that suggests any good claim to a civil lawsuit for money damages. Your problems are largely political. It appears there were bases for at least several of the citations you recieved. If you keep putting campers, RVs, broken cars, or whatever on or in front of your property that violate the code, however short the time frame may be, you'll run the risk of citations. If you maintain a house full of all kinds of pets, you'll run the risk of calls by neighbors about pet violations. You may not like that people are calling the city code enforcement on you and that the code officers have been hitting you with a lot of citations, but agressive enforcement is not illegal and certainly won't give you a civil lawsuit claim.

  • 06-13-2011 4:09 PM In reply to

    Re: Intentional infliction of emotional distress, Need advic...

    I can respect your opinion, and maybe my post was a little too long to read fully. The only 2 offenses that are actually valid is the first, where we had an RV parked out front on the grass, and the leftover items of the garage sale. The RV was moved immediatly, the garage sale items were taken to the dump. Only now is my cars tabs bad, they were not at the time of the violations. And across the street one way there is a RV parked on anothers lawn, across the street the other way there is a car who's tabs have been bad for 9 months. That is selective enforcement. All other alligations have been proven false, and the neighbor that is calling the city, CPS, etc is an ex councilwoman who is friends with the code enforcement officer.

    The police officer also sent a violation notice on April 28th, then another one on May 19th stating nothing had been done (which it had, car was taken off the jack and couch was removed) both showing the exact same pictures as the notice on the 28th. Which means the officer is blatenly lying claiming the area was in the same condition as when he first took the photo's.

    It seems to me you have the impression that I am living in a small home with a large amount of children/pets which is not the case. The home is a 7 bedroom home with an acre back yard. It is clean and in great condition. The children do not run wild and are well behaved.

  • 06-13-2011 4:23 PM In reply to

    Re: Intentional infliction of emotional distress, Need advic...

    I am only going to say that it seems like a reasonable assumption that if someone complains, they have to go and investigate the complaint.  If they find you not following the rules, they will fine you most likely.

    I live in a neighborhood where there are numerous rules.  Things like parking in the street, having your boat in your driveway, are all against the rules.  Many do it, and get away with it.  However, I'm quite sure if someone complains, they will come out and check to see about the violation.  If they find you are in violation, then you get fined.  If noone says anything, you might get away with it.

    If you have cars with expired tags, up on blocks, couches in your back yard, or whatever, and your neighbors complain, you are going to have to deal with it.  Maybe they are really coming down harder on you than anyone else, but I don't think that's illegal. 

    If I were you, I'd just really follow the rules closely for a while.  Hopefully, it's it is just one person reporting you, they will move on to other things and leave you alone soon.

  • 06-13-2011 5:24 PM In reply to

    Re: Intentional infliction of emotional distress, Need advice!

    I am curious where you came up with the "II of ED"?

    This is from a WA Sup Ct decision, using the Restatemen tof Torts has to say about the IIED.

    "[t]he first element of IIED, outrageous behavior, must be “so outrageous in character and extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency, and to be regarded as atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community.”

    IIED, said the court “does not extend to mere insults, indignities, threats, annoyances, petty oppressions, or other trivialities.” The court claimed to be sympathetic to Gina’s plight, but said that what her boss did was more in the vein of “insults” and “indignities” and did not cross the boundary into something “beyond all possible bounds of decency” and “atrocious"

    "Consequently, the tort of outrage “ ‘does not extend to mere insults, indignities, threats, annoyances, petty oppressions, or other trivialities.’   In this area plaintiffs must necessarily be hardened to a certain degree of rough language, unkindness and lack of consideration.”  Grimsby, 85 Wash.2d at 59, 530 P.2d 291 (quoting Restatement (Second) of Torts § 46 cmt. d).  

    So, despite the fact that your neighbor/ Officer Dude may be the BIGGEST p.i.t.a.'s that ever lived, NOTHING you state is anywhere close to the threshold of injury/damage that you must suffer in order to prevail on this type of claim. Now, if your PITA neighbor/Officer ran your dog over in front of your kid, that might suffice.

    These claims are reserved for cases like this:

    Washington Supreme Court in 2003 upheld a $60,000 jury verdict for intentional infliction of emotional distress in favor of a woman whose former live in male friend continually harassed her with hundreds of phone calls after the relationship ended. Even though the woman had obtained an order of protection, the man continued a nonstop barrage of phone calls. The man called the woman 640 times at home, 100 times at work and called the homes of several men with whom he thought the woman was having a relationship. He also threatened to kill the woman. The Washington Supreme Court reasoned that this deplorable crossed the line into outrageousness sufficient to justify the jury’s verdict.

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