Parents may sue ex-NFLer for saying their kids trashed his house

by Walter Olson on September 21, 2013

Over Labor Day weekend, hundreds of teenagers held an illegal party in the upstate New York home of former NFL star Brian Holloway. They left a wide swath of photos on social media, and Holloway put up a website identifying more than 100 of the 300 partiers. “But rather than apologize to Holloway for their children’s behavior, some parents have contacted their lawyers to see what legal action they can take” against him. [New York Daily News; response from radio personalities Chuck and Kelly, WGY]

{ 16 comments }

1 prior probability 09.21.13 at 6:23 pm

I dare those parents to sue the homeowner; this will allow homeowner to bring a counterclaim against those parents for the damages to his house AND maybe even a third-party complaint against the social media sites that transmitted the messages of the party-goers

2 captnhal 09.22.13 at 1:07 am

It says more about the parents’ sense of right and wrong than they realize. They’re teaching their children the wrong lesson and they don’t know it.

3 Hugo S. Cunningham 09.22.13 at 7:25 am

@prior

I suspect the lawyers these chowderheads seek are telling them exactly the same thing, also that the unfavorable coverage they attract to themselves and their little darlings will go up exponentially. Any lawyer who did bring such a case to court should be disbarred, not so much on grounds of moral turpitude (though there is that), but rather incompetent advice to his clients.

I don’t believe social media sites are liable for postings by the public, a good thing overall. Would you want your favorite public-comment sites shut down by fear of lawsuits, or go behind a paywall to hire lawyers to vet each post?

4 Melvin H. 09.22.13 at 8:11 am

Prior, the homeowner’s lawyer would not likely be the one doing that–the lawyer(s) of the parents whose teen’s pics ended up on the websites might try that, with the likely result a DMCA section 230 smackdown (the social websites would not be held responsible for third-party content; besides, the homeowner used said social websites to find out the pictures–and maybe names–of those involved in invading/trespassing & trashing his house).

5 asdfasdf 09.24.13 at 2:50 am

TMZ reports that the homeowner might be prevaricating for financial reasons, http://www.tmz.com/2013/09/22/brian-holloway-patriots-party-house-foreclosure-new-york/ .

TMZ, citing neighbors, notes that (1) the house was in forelosure; (2) the house was already in disrepair; (3) the homeowner had not lived in the house for a long time; (4) the house had no furniture.

TMZ quotes the neighbors themselves.

Assuming TMZ is correct (and they have more facts and are at least as reliable as the other sources), then overlawyered should be supporting the neighbors, not Holloway.

Even if by chance the partygoers did mistreat the house, from the Overlawyered point of view Holloway is morally, if not legally, at fault. He was fighting foreclosure for two years (despite not even living there), thus causing havoc and hurting property values in the whole neighborhood. He was the one exploiting the legal system at the expense of the entire neighborhood.

For him to turn around slander his neighbors, when he was the cause of the whole problem, is typical – but why is Overlawyered supporting his position in all this?

6 asdfasdf 09.24.13 at 2:55 am

Just to reiterate the qualifications in my last post, I have no knowledge of the actual facts excepting the TMZ article and the other articles; any criticism of the homeowner is predicated on the TMZ article being correct. If the TMZ article is not correct, then of course such criticism is not justified.

7 Walter Olson 09.24.13 at 7:07 am

Still trying to figure out which element of our original post constitutes “supporting his position.” It’s hard to see how the TMZ report undermines the general point of the public outcry, which is that parents have no basis to sue a man for accurately identifying their kids as unlawful partiers on his property. The report would be more relevant if Holloway were suing the teens and choosing to exaggerate their contribution to the damage.

8 Walter Olson 09.24.13 at 7:49 am

Also, whether or not Holloway’s house is in foreclosure, it hardly seems irresponsible for him to want to secure it from repeated invasion by third parties. To the extent that is his goal, he is helping to defend the lender’s interest as well as his own.

9 marco73 09.24.13 at 10:20 am

The parents are missing a golden opportunity to just shut their mouths. It cannot help them now or in the future to volunteer the fact, with pictures, that their little darlings were trespassing in a vacant property.
Whatever Mr. Holloway’s statements or motivation, there is little doubt that trespassing occurred. There cannot be an attorney around who is advising his clients: “Yes, yes, self-identify your children as trespassors and vandals, and dare Mr. Holloway to use the facts against you.”

10 captnhal 09.24.13 at 10:50 am

Maybe someone should tell the parents about the Streisand effect. On the other hand, maybe the parents are a step ahead of me and using the negative publicity as a learning tool.

11 prior probability 09.24.13 at 3:26 pm

asdfasdf makes some good points, or as Ronald Coase would say, the problem of harmful effects is reciprocal in nature … but it also makes me wonder whether the doctrine of “attractive nuisance” could be extended to teens?

12 gitarcarver 09.24.13 at 6:36 pm

asdfasdf makes some good points…

Not in my opinion he doesn’t.

TMZ, citing neighbors, notes that (1) the house was in forelosure;

I am finding it difficult to understand the relevance of this as it relates to the actions of the teens and the reactions of the parents. Is the point that houses in foreclosure are not real property and therefore it is open season on those homes?

Furthermore, given the well documented behavior of banks in foreclosure actions, how is Holloway wrong for fighting for his property on the courts?

(2) the house was already in disrepair;

Even given that the house was in disrepair, does that mean the teens were morally or legally right in adding to the disrepair? Only homes that are perfectly maintained should not be vandalized?

(3) the homeowner had not lived in the house for a long time;

Once again, how is this relevant? Is the argument that a home that does not have a resident has no value? Does not deserve legal protection?

(4) the house had no furniture.

Are we trying to say that a sofa would have made writing grafitti on the walls and urinating on the carpet more of a moral or legal issue? That a La-Z-Boy and a flat screen would have caused the 300 kids to go “oh dear. Perchance we should not be within this locked domicile”?

Even if by chance the partygoers did mistreat the house, …..

By chance? Right. Because the videos from the party goers show markers magically writing on walls while urinating on the carpet was a science experiment gone wrong.

…. from the Overlawyered point of view Holloway is morally, if not legally, at fault. He was fighting foreclosure for two years (despite not even living there), thus causing havoc and hurting property values in the whole neighborhood.

Does anyone really think that the property value of the home wasn’t hurt when the teens vandalized it? Or that the property value isn’t hurt by potential buyers knowing that parents in the atea will say that 300 teens trashing a home is the “moral and legal resposibility” of the property owner? How exactly does that work? How does such a national (and even international) incident like this help property values?

Nah. Sorry. Even if everything TMZ postulates (I haven’t seen any code violations cited) is correct, Holloway is the victim here. I realize that it is fashionable to “blame the victim,” but I can’t see any support in the idea Holloway was “morally and legally” responsible for what 300 kids did to his property.

To blame Holloway for this is, in my mind, reprehensible.

13 Ron Miller 09.25.13 at 12:57 pm

I think it is pretty important to see this interview of Holloway.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSvadf9e_AI

Don’t be scared. It is on Fox.

14 Boblipton 09.25.13 at 4:26 pm

I looked at it, Ron. Other than saying hello to his grandchildren on the air, it seemed to me to be Holloway talking about his concern over media taking control of the story for their own purposes and resisting the Fox interviewers who were trying and failing to get him to say…. I’m not sure what …. until they cut him off. Would you care to give me a hint as to what you saw that I did not?

Bob

15 Ron Miller 09.30.13 at 12:56 pm

I thought I saw the rantings of a someone who was not credible. The Fox hosts were trying to give a softball interview to let him get his story out.

Bob, did you watch that and say, “Oh, this is a normal credible guy. Why did they cut him off?”

16 Boblipton 09.30.13 at 4:43 pm

No, I thought he was not completely coherent and trying to steer the conversation the way he wanted. Fox had its agenda, he had his, and they didn’t mesh, so they cut him off…. although that might have been a matter of how much time they were allotting to this collection of sound bites.

Bob

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