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Lawsuit filed over squirrel's nutty rampage


Published: January 28, 2011

A DISORDERLY squirrel that seriously damaged the inside of a Carmel home — breaking China, destroying furniture, chewing electrical cords and severing water lines — is at the center of a lawsuit filed against a local real estate company.

In a suit filed Jan. 18, Mary Brinton alleges someone working for Estates on the Bay, which Brinton hired to rent out her Rio Vista Drive home, left a door open, allowing a squirrel to enter and cause nearly $30,000 in damage.

“A caretaker, unaware of the presence of the squirrel, closed and locked the doors, and the home remained in that locked condition for one week,” according to the lawsuit, “during which time said frustrated squirrel, seeking its freedom, literally wreaked havoc on the home.”
During her week-long, rent-free occupancy of the house last summer, the rambunctious rodent severed a water line to an ice maker, chewed electrical cords, broke China and gnawed on wood trim and telephone lines.

“As the result of such efforts to extricate and entertain itself while imprisoned within the home,” according to the suit filed in Monterey County Superior Court, “extensive water damage to the kitchen floor was caused.”

The damage, which included lots of gnaw marks and droppings, amounted to $27,729.13, which Brinton is seeking from Estates on the Bay.

“The reason it did so much damage is that it was a female squirrel,” Brinton’s attorney, David Hollingsworth quipped. “It wouldn’t have have been so much if it were a male.”

Though he didn’t specify how much, Hollingsworth said a “considerable amount” in damages in lost rent has already been paid by Estates on the Bay. The firm’s owner, Deanna Gobert, is also listed as a defendant in the suit.

The brokers, however, have not paid for the damage to the home, according to Hollingsworth.

“The problem was when we contacted the brokerage to settle things, they said, ‘We are not responsible,’” he claimed.

Estates on the Bay made unrelated news in December 2010, after the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office filed a civil case against Gobert and her sister, Susana Silva, for alleged fraudulent mortgage practices.

A Monterey attorney representing the real estate company, Bill Daniels, told The Pine Cone Tuesday he wasn’t aware of the squirrel lawsuit, so he made no comment about it.

Despite the rodent’s efforts to escape, it never found a way out, and the caretaker, after finding the home in shambles, also found the rodent.

“They caught the offending squirrel” and released it, Hollingsworth said. “They didn’t execute it.”