LOS ANGELES (CN) — Elderly neighbors have taken a simmering dispute with actress Minnie Driver to court, claiming she is harassing construction workers and threw baby food jars full of black paint against their home.
The home is in the Hollywood Hills, where Daniel and Mary Lou Perelmutter bought property in January 2014. Construction of the home began in March 2015.
Daniel Perelmutter, 74, says that’s when Driver began going to great lengths to block access to a driveway easement that leads to several parcels of land, including Driver’s property.
Driver, 46, is known for her Academy Award-nominated performance opposite Matt Damon in the 1997 film “Goodwill Hunting.”
Perelmutter says his property on Woodrow Wilson Drive retains ownership of the easement via the original grant of easement, which dates back to the 1930s, and serves as an access for contractors working on his home.
He says Driver has prevented him from using an electronic gate that allows access to the easement. The gate was installed by Driver, with the Perelmutters’ blessing, to protect her from paparazzi, but she changed the code and disabled the manual switch after construction began, according to Perelmutters’ attorney, Brandon Fernald.
She also deliberately parks her car over the property line, blocking entry to the Perelmutters’ property, and “regularly screams all manner of obscenities” at them and construction workers, according to the complaint.
The Perelmutters say Driver has gone so far as to drive her car recklessly toward them, and thrown paint bombs against their house.
“Driver’s efforts have caused substantial delays and cost overruns with respect to the construction,” according to the May 6 complaint filed in Superior Court.
“At times, her conduct has caused construction workers to be trapped on the … property for upwards eight hours because Driver has caused their vehicles to be blocked in; and has caused construction workers to leave the site out of fear for their safety.”
Fernald says he does not have exact numbers, but that the delays have cost the Perelmutters about $100,000: 10 percent of the home’s $1 million value.
Driver denied the reckless driving and paint bomb allegations on Wednesday, saying she carpools her son Henry, 7, and his friends.
“I would never drive dangerously with my children or with other people’s children,” she told Entertainment Tonight. “That is an egregious allegation.”
As for the paint bombs, she said: “I did not throw that. I did not stoop to vandalism.”
Perelmutter, who is a heart transplant recipient, says Driver’s behavior has caused him and his wife “significant anxiety, sleeplessness and depression.”
Driver filed a temporary restraining order against him last year, saying Perelmutter “cursed us and blew smoke in my children’s faces. His aggressive conduct is escalating and we are frightened what Perelmutter will do next,” according to a local television report.
Fernald told Courthouse News on Wednesday that the claim is false.
“That did not happen. There is absolutely nothing to that,” he said.
He said Driver failed to show at a hearing to substantiate her claims.
“In November 2015 she got a TRO claiming she was harassed by Daniel,” Fernald said. “Anyone can get a TRO, a 21-day order. They have to show something, but not much. But she never showed up for the evidentiary hearing, so it was dismissed. That was in January, but she continues with this behavior.”
Driver claims Perelmutter “leapt” in front of her car as she was driving, according to Fernald, who called the accusation absurd.
“He has heart problems and has had a lot of back surgeries, so I don’t think he has done any leaping in about 20 years,” Fernald said.
Driver’s attorney, Ellyn Garofalo, did not return a phone call made after hours, but provided a statement to CBS-2 in Los Angeles last week.
“Daniel Perelmutter has been the bane of his neighbors for years. Ten years ago, the previous owners of Ms. Driver’s home were forced to sue Mr. Perelmutter for interfering with their ability to use a common driveway to reach their property,” Garofalo said. “Mr. Perelmutter filed this lawsuit in retaliation for a contempt proceeding in which Ms. Driver alleges that Mr. Perelmutter is back to his old tricks and had violated the 2006 court order entered against him. Mr. Perelmutter’s recent misconduct affects not only Ms. Driver, but the other homeowners who share the driveway with Mr. Perelmutter. These neighbors fully support Ms. Driver and are working with her to stop Mr. Perelmutter from his ongoing violations of the 2006 court order and restore access to their homes. Mr. Perelmutter’s lawsuit is frivolous and will be successfully defended.”
Fernald said the new lawsuit has nothing to do with the previous legal proceedings and that Driver is simply upset over the construction.
“It comes down to the fact that she is just angry over the construction, which would have been done by now without her actions,” he said. “That’s my take, but I’m not in her head, so I don’t know, but my feeling is that she is a celebrity and she feels entitled and doesn’t like the construction or the home being there and wants to bully the Perelmutters. The irony is that the house is a nice house and will most likely raise property values and would have been completed by now.”
An evidentiary hearing is scheduled for August.
The Perelmutters sued Driver and property trustee Lindsay Wineberg for trespass, private nuisance, assault and intentional infliction of emotion distress.
They seek punitive damages, quite title, establishment of a prescriptive and equitable easement, and an injunction.
They are represented by the Fernald Law Group. Garofalo is with Liner LLP, both of Los Angeles.
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