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Neighbor Files Lawsuit Over Christmas Music

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By George Khoury, Esq. on December 13, 2016 10:13 AM

One New York City attorney has had enough of his neighbor's Christmas display and has filed a lawsuit. While some might think he is going overboard, the display includes speakers that play Christmas music from 7 a.m. to midnight, daily. The plaintiff has grown rather tired of hearing the same songs over and over again.

While there is no shortage of neighbors that enjoy the display, the man who filed the lawsuit lives right across the street. The attorney, Nick Wilder, who is representing himself, is seeking an injunction to force his neighbor, socialite Lisa Maria Falcone, to turn off the music.

Is Too Much Holiday Cheer a Nuisance?

When it comes to nuisance law, having a holiday display with too much cheer could very well land you in some legal trouble. For starters, various home owners associations have restrictions on holiday displays. Generally though, to prove that a neighbor's holiday display is a nuisance, you will have to show that their display interferes with your enjoyment of your property in a substantial way.

In many cities and localities, there are specific laws that prohibit certain types of displays, particularly those that may cause traffic disruptions. However, in this New York City case, it may be a little more difficult to prove, particularly if the noise level and duration of the music are found to be within what is allowed by NYC law. At the end of the day, it may just be a repeat of the famous middle-finger holiday lights from a few years back, which a judge ruled was perfectly legal.

Should I Sue My Neighbor for Their Holiday Display?

If your neighbor has an obnoxiously bright or loud display that offends your sensibilities, you may have wondered what your legal options are. First, try to have a polite conversation about your desire for them to tone it down or restrict the times the display is on. If that doesn't work, you can get legal, too.

If you have a HOA, then check the neighborhood bylaws. A local attorney will be able to help. You will want to document proof, and if there are state or local laws on noise decibel levels, or brightness, being broken, an attorney will know how to document these problems. Typically though, if you can get rid of the disturbance by closing your curtains and windows, then it is unlikely you will have a strong case. If the brightness penetrates your curtains, or the noise penetrates your walls, then you may have a legal case.

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