CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) — The old saying goes, “don’t take the law into your own hands, take ’em to court”, and that’s exactly what residents in a quiet Cleveland Heights neighborhood are doing.
In a very unusual case unfolding in a downtown Cleveland courtroom, a couple is suing their neighbors for using a large pizza oven in their backyard.
According to the lawsuit filed by Brooks and Mika Jones, their neighbor, Paul Schambs, built a commercial size woodfired pizza oven in May 2017 behind a home on Grandview Avenue that he shares with Mary Lynne Newsome.
The plaintiffs live on the second floor of an apartment building that they own two doors down from the pizza oven, and since 2017, they maintain the oven has been a consistent nuisance. The Jones’ claim that ongoing complaints about the impact of the oven that they have lodged with the owners and the city of Cleveland Heights have fallen on deaf ears.
During the selection of a jury that will hear the lawsuit, Judge Shannon Gallagher laid out the allegations the Jones’ are leveling against Paul Schambs and Mary Lynne Newsome.
“Allege that when the pizza oven is in use, the smoke and gases travel to their property and into their apartment causing them physical discomfort, annoyance, stress and anxiety, and that the smoke and gases significantly affect their ability to use and enjoy their property and their apartment,” said Judge Gallagher.
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs maintain that the smoke and fumes are so strong that the odor lingers on their clothes and the fur of their pets for days on end. The suit maintains that when the pizza oven is used, it typically burns for between three and 10 hours at a time.
The plaintiffs contend that the physical discomfort caused by the smoke and fumes includes coughing, sore throats, headaches, burning eyes and dizziness.
Brooks and Mika Jones are seeking at least $25,000 in damages, and injunctive relief to prevent Paul Schambs and Mary Lynne Newsome from using the pizza oven.
The lawsuit is generating a buzz online, and the judge reminded members of the jury pool that they should not allow anything outside the courtroom to influence their opinions.
“You’re not to talk about this case with each other or with anybody else, you’re not form an opinion about this case, and you’re not do any additional research, I don’t want you reading or Googling about this case. You will receive all the information you need to try this case within this room,” said Judge Gallagher.
Late Monday, a jury was seated in the case, and opening statements are scheduled for Tuesday morning.