Highlandtown tiff escalates BALTIMORE CITY


January 06, 1993|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff Writer

It may be just another neighborhood feud involving collapsed swimming pool, a drowned squash plant and a hanged baby doll, but Pappas vs. Buettner is moving from the rowhouses of Highlandtown to the courthouse downtown.

"Oh, my gracious," was the reaction of Betty Buettner, 62, upon being told yesterday that she and her husband have been sued by their next-door neighbor, 70-year-old Christine Pappas. "She's got me in nerves all the time," Mrs. Buettner said, adding, "I don't like her -- I admit that -- but I don't do anything to hurt her."

Yes, said Mrs. Buettner, there was a small back yard pool that collapsed and flooded the neighbor's basement. But Mrs. Buettner said her homeowner's insurance covered the neighbor's damage.

According to the suit, filed Monday in Baltimore Circuit Court, Ms. Pappas has been living in her home in the 3800 block of Bank St. for 43 years. Mrs. Buettner said she and her husband, George, have been living next door for the last 20 years and had lived across the street for 15 years before.

The Buettners built a 4-foot-high swimming pool in 1988, but it collapsed and sent water and sand spewing into Ms. Pappas' basement, the suit states. "Additionally, plaintiff's garden, which included a rare squash plant grown from seeds imported from Europe by a dear and now deceased relation, was destroyed by the torrent of chlorinated water," reads the suit, filed on Ms. Pappas' behalf by lawyer Mark J. Adams.

The pool collapsed four more times over the next several years, repeatedly causing water damage to Ms. Pappas' cellar, the suit claims. Once, while watching TV in her basement, Ms. Pappas heard a gush of water and rushed to close the door. She knocked over a fan, which, splashed by the incoming tide, produced a shock that sent her tumbling, the suit said. That spill led to five months of visits with a chiropractor, the suit said.

All along, Ms. Pappas called police and city housing inspectors, who refused to do anything, according to the suit.

The police certainly have been called, Mrs. Buettner confirmed, but they laughed off the woman's complaints.

Ms. Pappas says the Buettners have harassed her, using profanity and encouraging one child to spray her with pool water. On June 28, Ms. Pappas noticed a doll hanging from the Buettner property by a noose. Mrs. Buettner said the doll was hanged by her grandchildren and had nothing to do with Ms. Pappas.

Ms. Pappas is demanding $125,000 in damages. Mrs. Buettner says she will file a countercomplaint, adding: "I can't stand any more of this."

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