• February 17, 2016

map-525349_1280Three years ago, I questioned whether the biblical edict, “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” really holds up when applied to reality.

Like many questions we read on the internet, to ask is to answer the question. The answer is “No.” (This is Betteridge’s Law of Headlines.)

This week, an appellate decision involving Mr. Jay Nygard, a one-man Minnesota civil litigation powerhouse fueled by the Morhman & Kaardal law firm (an interesting case-study itself) provides me with further proof of my point:

[I]n 2012, respondent, who lives 0.1 miles from appellants, ‘monitor[ed] the activities’ of appellants’ family, ‘stood in front of our house and [verbally] threatened each member of our family,’ photographed and filmed Jay Nygard as he installed a ‘flagpole’ on his property, and verbally taunted their disabled son, causing the son to have seizures in response to the stress. Also in 2012, respondent allegedly ‘threatened to go after [Kendall Nygard] at her place of employment, our daughter at her school, and . . . the mortgage on our house.’ And further in 2012, respondent allegedly stopped his vehicle abruptly in an attempt to have Jay Nygard strike respondent’s vehicle with his ‘family heirloom automobile.’

This is a quote from this week’s appellate opinion affirming the trial court’s denial of Mr. and Mrs. Nygard’s motion for a harassment restraining order against their neighbor.

The decision is of no legal importance or interest but, still, somehow of interest to me.

The quoted section of the unpublished opinion is an example, I would suggest, of the idiosyncratic humor (intentional or not) of quite a few legal opinions.

Note, for example, that the Court uses internal quotes for “flagpole.” What’s that about? Putting the word in “quotes” makes it seem like the court of appeals feels the need to subvert the word for some reason. Nygard was not installing a flagpole. He was installing “a flagpole.” Follow me?

1280px-Gadsden_flag.svgAnd note that the opinion, as written (with the use of “ellipsis“), suggests that Mr. Nygards’ neighbor allegedly threatened to go after the mortgage on the Nygards’ house. How does one go after a neighbor’s mortgage, I wonder? Why would one want to? (“You mess with me and, so help me G*d, I am going full tilt after your mortgage…”)

I also note and appreciate that the neighbor allegedly slammed the brakes on in his car, supposedly in an attempt to have Mr. Nygard “strike” the car with Mr. Nygard’s “family heirloom automobile.”

Then we have the “family heirloom automobile,” a nice touch. Does that mean Grandpa’s 1980 AMC Pacer? If someone slams on his brakes to cause you to run into him, (1) does it really aggravate the wrong based on your family history with your car; and (2) does it not suggest that you leave appropriate stopping distance between you and the neighbors who do not love you as they love themselves?

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