What face should I wear when passing by neighbors who are suing us?
September 26, 2016 2:08 PM   Subscribe

Neighbors are suing us for a money grab and now I'm unsure of how to behave when seeing them. My insurance will cover the costs so only slight financial hit. Money isn't the problem but now it's so very awkward. Starts with dog and ends with fetish site pictures.

Our neighbors door faces ours. We're about 15 feet apart. A few months ago, our special needs daughter had our dog outside and he bit the neighbor (the husband) in an effort to guard our daughter. I totally take responsibility for this and we will pay a hefty fine. The dog wasn't given a muzzle order because animal control deemed him not aggressive or vicious. In any case, I almost had a stroke when I heard about this and thought I would die. I felt awful. I went over to the neighbor and assured them that they will never see him again as I would be sure to walk him elsewhere and never bring him out when they're outside.

Some background. I get along with the husband as he's a great person and very friendly. The wife is cold and hard to talk to. I knew very little about them and only said hello and goodbye. They're career people and I'm at home a lot.

A couple weeks ago, we were sent a letter from a lawyer saying they're suing. My insurance adjustor says maybe the wife prompted the husband. We're in Canada and so they are not out any money. He was playing outside the next day and went to work immediately. So now they can only sue for "stress" etc.

I googled his and her name and figured out more about them. Yes, he's a great guy....but the wife... She has a social media site where she posts daily pictures of her sexy feet. Including hashtags about shoe fetishes etc.

So now when I go outside and one of them is there, do I smile and say hi like I used to? Ignore them? I'm the type that wants to get along with everyone especially neighbors. I'll do whatever it takes because you never know when a neighbor needs help and vice versa. I don't hold grudges and feel ill will towards people.

What's the right way to face these people? As for the site, it was kind of odd but the many many pictures makes me think this woman suffering from narcissistic personality disorder.
posted by Coffeetyme to Human Relations (19 answers total)
Ignoring your neighbors is always a good idea regardless of whether they're suing you or not.
posted by dortmunder at 2:12 PM on September 26, 2016 [40 favorites]

What? Who cares if this woman takes photographs of her feet and puts them online? Why is that your business? Why do you think it entitles you to diagnose her with a mental disorder? This is really strange. Just go about your life, control your dog, and be superficially friendly as always and as you should be with all neighbors. I don't see what her feet have to do with anything related to you at all.
posted by sockermom at 2:14 PM on September 26, 2016 [140 favorites]

they aren't suing you, they are suing your insurance.

Don't take this personally. Don't change your behavior towards them.
posted by JPD at 2:16 PM on September 26, 2016 [27 favorites]

The most important thing here is to forget whatever you know about her fetish site-- it's none of your business and shouldn't change how you interact with these people. Act like it has nothing to do with you, because it doesn't.

You could ignore them, or you could smile, say hi, and keep walking. Either would be fine under the circumstances. I would err on the side of more pleasant.

I would be inclined to smile/pleasantly acknowledge them, and just keep walking because that's how I treat people I don't like and don't want to talk to, but who I am forced to be around anyway. I may not like someone, but it's important to me to be courteous when we're sharing space.
posted by blnkfrnk at 2:18 PM on September 26, 2016 [5 favorites]

The one thing doesn't have anything to do with the other.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:18 PM on September 26, 2016 [10 favorites]

The foot thing is a distraction; ignore it. The lawsuit means you be careful not to do anything to antagonize them.
posted by SMPA at 2:28 PM on September 26, 2016

You have two unrelated problems:

1) how do I treat the neighbour who I like but is suing my insurers in a money grab over a minor dog bite? &

2) how do I cope with the knowledge that my frosty neighbour that I don't really care for has a foot fetish site that I found when specifically digging dirt on her and her bitten husband?

1) treat him as you always have, but keep your dog under control (l will admit I am all kinds of curious about the attack, as I have kids with special needs and a dog - where was he when bitten? What was he doing? Is the dog generally "guardy" or was this the first time? The authorities seem to have accepted that the dog had justification for biting (fine but no ongoing repercussions), what exactly was he doing when bitten that this was the outcome? I have a very sweet natured dog and if he bit someone I thought was a nice person it would probably make me revise my view of the victim.)

2) pretend you don't know, don't dig anymore. I'm sure you wanted to find she's sued ten other people in money grabs, instead you found she feeds a fairly benign fetish scene online. Neither would have helped you. Even if she is money grab central your dog bit her husband and you have insurance.
posted by intergalacticvelvet at 2:33 PM on September 26, 2016

I've been sued (quite spuriously and won) and have a different opinion. If you want to, read all about them online! The legal space requires great self control. If you get catharsis by judging their online presence, enjoy. It's not like you're going to ruin a great friendship there.

In person, I don't think it matters as long as it's not hostile nor oversharing. If you habitually smile at people and also smile at them, that's fine. I think it's fine if you want to say hi. If you want to try to ignore them, I think that's fine, too. I'd avoid too much conversation or exacerbating the hostilities. Don't tell them anything like "my dog only bit one other person" that they could use against you.

Maybe after insurance settles the suit, you can go back to being neighborly. The neighbor who called me in to code enforcement* just gave me a baby shower gift. (* I would've moved the construction supplies if i knew they were bothering her!)
posted by slidell at 2:55 PM on September 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

You are diagnosing her based on nothing. Seriously. If your dog had bit me or my partner I would be immensely wary of you for ever. I don't know anything about Animal Control in your country, but in my book , short of the neighbour physically attacking the dog or your daughter, then that dog is potentially aggressive and dangerous. Leave them alone.
posted by threetwentytwo at 3:03 PM on September 26, 2016 [8 favorites]

JPD: they aren't suing you, they are suing your insurance.

Don't take this personally. Don't change your behavior towards them.

OP, will the lawsuit raise your insurance premiums? Because I certainly think that would be a reason to take this personally.

That said, him being bitten was your fault. And at this point other than apologizing there's little you can do other than keeping your word and keeping that dog away from them and anyone else it might potentially attack. As a pet owner your responsibility is to control your animal and keep it out of situations where it might conceivably do harm.

Coffeetyme: As for the site, it was kind of odd but the many many pictures makes me think this woman suffering from narcissistic personality disorder.

This has nothing to do with your lawsuit. Or you. Or anything else, really. It's not your business. And trying to diagnose her over it as having some sort of mental disorder is wrong and distasteful at best.
posted by zarq at 3:23 PM on September 26, 2016 [4 favorites]

I think you should definitely not talk to them at any cost. For one thing, you're being sued. For another, you seem to have an unhealthy idea with regards to diagnosing the neighbor with a disorder. Anything you say will make you look worse than you already do and potentially complicate the lawsuit.
posted by destructive cactus at 3:24 PM on September 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

I would take the lawsuit personally and ignore them from now on. I wouldn't be outwardly rude, but if the wife is going to be cold (rude?) to you and then they're going to sue, I can't see any reason to treat them with the same friendliness as you do the rest of your neighbors, who are nice and haven't sued you or your insurance company.
posted by cnc at 3:41 PM on September 26, 2016 [4 favorites]

It's ok to smile and be polite. If you happen to be in the hallway at the same time, smile and say hello.
posted by pintapicasso at 4:19 PM on September 26, 2016

Honestly having a dog with history of biting will have a bigger impact on your insurance than one smallish lawsuit.

In fact I'd guess you'll have to hunt for a carrier.
posted by JPD at 4:27 PM on September 26, 2016

I disagree with those who dismiss the claim by saying "they are only suing your insurance." They are suing you, as a way to get to your insurance company's money.

But they have a right to do it. In many states, and perhaps in Canada as well, automatic liability applies in a dog bite case. The legal system is intended to handle this kind of claim.
posted by megatherium at 6:11 PM on September 26, 2016

You're taking all of this wrong.

The lawsuit which you characterize as a "money grab" is probably their insurance suing yours to get their money back. That is how subrogation works. It isn't a personal attack, and in any case remember this started because your dog, unprovoked, bit a member of their family, and they have to keep living with it 15 feet from their door. If anyone has a grievance here it isn't you.

As for the website, you can giggle if you want (I am, jealously, as I can only wish that my feet were cute enough to make money with) but it has nothing to do with anything else.

Just be polite. If they can continue being polite to you, you can certainly continue being polite to them.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:26 PM on September 26, 2016 [14 favorites]

If they filed any sort of insurance claim their end for time off work, medical or whatever, what is happening is their insurance company suing you so that they can get the money from your insurance company. Or hell maybe they decided to go for what money they can, they'll be surprised how little then get for one little bite seems hardly worth the effort. My brother had his face half ripped off & barely got a pittance in a vicious unprovoked dog attack, I can't imagine with the descriptions by the professionals of your dog as non violent they'll get a lot.

What the wife does or doesn't do with her feet is irrelevant.
posted by wwax at 7:52 PM on September 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

Hi: Dog-lover here. Your dog bit someone. This is a big deal! Be glad you're in Canada, if you were in the United States you might find yourself facing something as serious as jail time, even if it was the first time your dog bit someone.

Be very polite to your neighbors and consider yourself lucky that they are only suing based on the bite. Consider seeing a dog behaviorist and working with your dog on their behavior outside.
posted by arnicae at 8:12 PM on September 26, 2016 [7 favorites]

Yeah, this is not a "money grab." This is your neighbors (or their insurer) appropriately seeking compensation from your insurer for costs inflicted by your poorly controlled dog. You should continue to be apologetic to your neighbors and not mention your snooping.
posted by ewiar at 6:08 PM on September 27, 2016 [6 favorites]

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