Friday, February 13, 2004 Print This | Email This     

Man sues neighbors for feeding birds

By Steve Irsay, Court TV

BROOKSVILLE, Fla. (Court TV) — A judge last month pooh-poohed a man's attempt to hold his bird-friendly neighbors responsible for excessive droppings in his yard.

After years of chasing birds out of his fruit garden and scraping droppings off his boat, Edward Renna, 66, filed a small claims lawsuit in June against his neighbors, Marian and Chuck Butler, who reportedly feed neighborhood birds with 40 pounds of seeds each week.

Renna, a contractor, asked the judge for an injunction to prevent the Butlers from feeding the birds. He also sought $5,000 in damages to his fruit trees, boat and dock, as well as the mental anguish he purportedly suffered scooping poop.

In January, Renna represented himself in a trial before Hernando County Judge Peyton Hyslop. Apparently, he did not meet the "bird-en" of proof.

While Hyslop did acknowledge that the Butlers' ample bird feedings likely contributed to Renna's poop problem, he said Renna did not prove that the Butlers were the sole source of the problem.

As evidence, Renna displayed a half-dozen nests plucked from his trees. He also showed videos and photos of his yard which contained feathers, nests, excrement, and birds — both dead and alive. Renna also talked about diseases spread by birds.

The Butlers' attorney, Gary Frank, reportedly called the case "preposterous" and asked the judge to dismiss it.

In his closing statement, Frank argued that bird droppings in Renna's yard and on his boat should not be surprising since the man lives by the water.

Hyslop declined to award damages and ordered each side to pay its own court costs.

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