MORGANTOWN – Retired Ohio Circuit Judge Arthur Recht will preside over a lawsuit involving a woman being sued by 30 of her neighbors for housing chickens on her property.
An administrative order by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals was filed Nov. 10 in Monongalia Circuit Court, recalling Recht to hear the case.
Monongalia Circuit Judges Phillip D. Gaujot, Russell M. Clawges Jr. and Susan B. Tucker all wished to recuse themselves voluntarily from presiding over the lawsuit.
Chief Justice Margaret L. Workman, upon review of the reasons for the recusals, deemed the recusals warranted, according to the order.
Gaujot originally had been assigned to the case. He asked for a judge outside of Monongalia County to preside over it.
"Participation in this matter poses a conflict for all of the judges in this circuit due to fact that we are familiar with the parties involved in the civil action, as well as counsel,” Gaujot, the county’s chief judge, said in the court filing.
Tracey Lea Frisch was sued in September by a group of 30 neighbors over the chickens she housed on her property.
The plaintiffs all own property in the Hopecrest Addition in Morgantown and Frisch also owns property in the subdivision along with her husband, according to the suit.
The plaintiffs claim in 2013, Frisch built a chicken coop and began raising chickens on her property and at times there have also been turkeys and ducks on the property.
In 2015, Frisch had about 10 to 13 chickens at any given time on the property, according to the suit.
The plaintiffs claim the chicken coop, the chickens and the resulting condition of the yard has rendered the property unsightly and outside the generally accepted character of the other homes within Hopecrest Addition.
Frisch's harboring of chickens has resulted in the constant presence of a foul and noxious odor, which not only can be smelled while on public sidewalks and streets, but can also be smelled on the plaintiffs' private property, preventing the plaintiffs from enjoying their property, according to the suit.
The plaintiffs claim because of the terrain in Hopecrest Addition, the resulting waste is washed down to the edge of the public sidewalk and street whenever it rains.
The presence of the chickens also attracts "new, unwanted and dangerous predatory animals to the neighborhood, including raccoons and coyotes," according to the suit.
The plaintiffs claim by maintaining the chicken coop on their property, the defendants are in breach of restrictive covenants and are a private nuisance.
In her answer, Frisch denied most of the allegations made by her neighbors.
The plaintiffs are seeking a preliminary injunction, a permanent injunction, and compensatory and punitive damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. They are being represented by Stephen B. Farmer and Matthew H. Nelson of Farmer, Cline & Campbell PLLC.
The plaintiffs include George Armstead, Ginny Armstead, Madonna J. Bird, Walter C. Bird, Barbara J. Tucker Bucy, Gisela Compley, Adrianne Dering, Alexander W. Dering, Mary Ann Farmer, Aimee Fominko, Pam Gross, Ron Gross, Carolyn J. Hampson, Rebecca Henderson, Robert Henderson, Frank Hillgartner, Stephen M. Lacagnin, Connie Merandi, Frank Merandi, Judith Raese, Lisa Salati, Rebecca Singleton, James M. Stevenson, John R. Verno, Kenneth Z. Weiss, Saralouise Weiss, Moldy K. Wilkins, R. Andrew Wilkins II, Jack S. Yorty and Robin L. Yorty.
Monongalia Circuit Court case number: 15-C-577