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Plotnik v. Meihaus

California Court of Appeals
146 Cal.Rptr.3d 585 (2012)


Facts

David and Joyce Plotnik (plaintiffs) lived next to John Meihaus, Jr. (defendant). The relationship between the Plotniks and Meihaus was contentious. The Plotniks built a fence to separate their properties, but Meihaus sued over the location of the fence. The Plotniks agreed to move the fence to settle the lawsuit. Meihaus then threw trash and yard clippings over the fence onto the Plotniks’ property on several occasions. The Plotniks began documenting these events by taking photographs of the trash and yard waste. Other incidents between the parties included Meihaus giving the Plotnik family the middle finger while out jogging on several occasions. On April 9, 2009, David Plotnik was in his yard investigating more trash. The family dog, Romeo, was also in the yard. Romeo was a 12 to 15 pound, 12-inch-tall miniature pinscher. David heard banging on the other side of the fence, and he opened the gate. Romeo ran over into Meihaus’s property. Meihaus then struck Romeo with a baseball bat, and Romeo returned to the Plotniks’ property. Romeo eventually needed surgery to repair one of his legs. The Plotniks sued Meihaus for trespass to personal property based on the injury to Romeo. The jury awarded damages of approximately $50,000 to the Plotniks for economic loss and for emotional distress. Meihaus appealed to the California Court of Appeals.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Rylaarsdam, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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