A Hamilton adult film actress has been awarded $10,000 in damages after “insidious” bullying from neighbours.
Lisa Lewis successfully brought a civil case against her neighbour – the Hamilton Cosmopolitan Club – following what a judge called “nuisance” behaviour by its staff.
Lewis rents a property adjacent to the club that once owned it.
While the property is subdivided from the club’s land, the house she rents is only accessible through the club’s car park.
Lewis claimed issues with the club began once new manager Ian Morgan was appointed in 2017.
According to the court judgment notes, the pair knew each other as Lewis had previously rented a room from him when he owned the Sails Motel.
However, Morgan had told her to leave the property.
In 2017, Lewis had complained a number of times about the behaviour of club patrons in the car park.
She claimed they tooted their horns late at night, aimed fireworks at her front gate and egged her property.
On one occasion Morgan said he had been tooting at a cat, however CCTV footage seen by the judge did not include a cat.
“I have no doubt at all that the pattern of club members tooting the horns of their cars when passing Ms Lewis’ fence has evolved from encouragement by management to do so,” the judge wrote.
“This insidious behaviour was symptomatic of the way the club has dealt with Ms Lewis.”
Judge David Cameron awarded Lewis $10,000 in damages, alongside $39,404 in legal costs.
That sum must be paid by the club as penance for causing “considerable stress to Ms Lewis over many months”.
Lewis also said her three dogs were often unsettled.
“Despite this disharmony, and the problems with the accessway, Ms Lewis has no desire to leave the property,” Judge Cameron said.
“She has three dogs and rightly points out that it is extremely difficult to find a landlord who will agree to keeping dogs on a rental property.”
Back in August 2020, Club president Susan McLean signed a trespass notice against Lewis. Just a few months later the club built fencing along the length of the accessway, which meant Lewis could not drive in and out of her property.
The court heard that Lewis tried to manhandle the portion that was in front of her driveway, but it had fallen on her. She said once that happened Morgan and other club employees were watching and laughing at her.
She called the police, and they ordered the club to remove the fence.
However, the trespass notice against her had not been issued correctly, the judge said.
“A meeting of the executive committee, properly minuted, was required, and it is clear that such process was not followed.
“It follows that the trespass notice is invalid.”
At the time, Lewis had filed with the Disputes Tribunal relating to alleged “wrongful use of the car park by others”.
“I consider that the act of issuing the trespass notice was one of retaliation against Ms Lewis.”
In the meantime, Lewis can still enter the club’s carpark, only to access her property.
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