For all its walkability and easy access to food and drink, the type of dense, urban living embodied by Uptown does have its drawbacks. Price is one. The three-bedroom townhomes that line Worthington Street are valued on the tax rolls at upward of a half million dollars. Another minus: Loud neighbors are basically impossible to ignore.
Take the gentlemen who rented the property next door to Justin and Laura Tilley last year. Previously, the Tilleys had enjoyed the Worthington Street townhome they'd bought in 2010. The music changed all that.
The music was constant, they say, and it was loud. Loud enough that they had to yell to be heard over the pulsing bass. Loud enough to shake the walls and jolt picture frames askew. Loud enough that they didn't have a solid night's sleep in months. More than once, they called in sick because they were too sleep-deprived to work.
The Tilleys had hoped that a neighborly chat with the tenants -- a man they identify as Chris Garcia and a couple of others whose names they never learned -- would resolve their problem. When it didn't, they turned to the landlord, Mark Doom, with whom they had gotten along with quite well as neighbors, back before he moved out and leased the house. When that failed, they started calling the cops -- at least 14 times by their count. When that, too, yielded no relief, they sued, naming both the tenants and Doom as defendants.
Basically, the Tilleys are asking the court to permanently ban their neighbors from playing loud music, or else force Doom to evict them, and declare them a "private nuisance," which would entitle the Tilleys to damages for causing pain and suffering and interfering with their enjoyment of their property.
Aside from the mere fact that a noise dispute between neighbors has escalated into a heavily lawyered court battle, the interesting thing about the suit is the level of Garcia's alleged assholery. Here's an excerpt from the lawsuit detailing the Tilley's mostly unsuccessful attempts to have their neighbors turn their music down:
On January 18, 2014 (3:02 am), Plaintiffs texted Mr. Garcia "Please turn off the base." Mr. Garcia responded "Ok I'm so sorry." On January 30, 2014 (8:11 pm), Plaintiffs texted Mr. Garcia "Please turn off the bass." No response from Mr. Garcia. On March 29, 2014 (9:43 pm), Plaintiffs texted Mr. Garcia "Can you please turn down the bass." No response from Mr. Garcia. On April 10, 2014 (7:00 PM) Plaintiffs' texted Mr. Garcia, "Please turn your music off." Mr. Garcia responded "I'm not home I'll txt my roommate." Plaintiffs responded "Thank you." On April 20, 2014 (2:55 am), Plaintiffs texted Mr. Garcia "Turn down the music please." Mr. Garcia responded on April 20, 2014 (7:18 am), "Sorry I'm in North Carolina that was my roommate." On May 18, 2014 (11:27 pm), Plaintiffs texted "Can you please stop the music." No response from Mr. Garcia.
When, on another occasion, they knocked on his door at 2 a.m. with a plea to turn the music down, the lawsuit says he admitted to having received 36 loud-noise citations from the city and that he'd paid $15,000 in fines as a result.
Those figures, offered secondhand as part of a lawsuit, may not be quite reliable, as our open records request with the city for that information will take two weeks to process.
We reached Justin Tilley briefly last week for confirmation, but he said he was busy and asked us to call back. He hasn't answered or returned our subsequent phone calls. Also staying quiet is Garcia's attorney, Sean M. Whyte. Reached Monday morning, he said he's not allowed to speak on the case. Asked why, he repeated: He wasn't allowed to speak on the case.
The one person who would comment on the case is Doom's attorney (and, probably not coincidentally, his former across-the-street neighbor) Eric Buether.
"This is really a dispute between Mr. Tilley and his wife and the residents of the property," Buether said.
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Doom can -- and has -- asked his tenants to keep the noise down, but Buether says his client has no legal responsibility to do anything further.
"The duty to be a peaceable neighbor is the duty of the people who live there. ... He can't go down there and put muzzles on them or cut their speaker cable wires or anything like that," Buether says.
Buether told us that on Friday, before District Judge Emily Tobolowsky agreed with Garcia's request and ordered the case temporarily sealed.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.