A Clarence, N.Y., man with a deep-seated psychological fear of frogs was awarded more than $1 million dollars last month after his home was invaded for 13 years by the amphibians due to water runoff from a nearby development.
Paul Marinaccio said that newly created wetlands have turned his driveway and lawn into a sanctuary for frogs during warmer months, which wouldn’t be as large a problem as it is for the 65-year-old if he didn’t have a phobia of frogs, the Buffalo News reported on Sunday.
“I’m petrified of the little creatures,” said Marinaccio, who told jurors during the case, which began in 2009, that the frogs have affected his quality of life.
“You people don’t understand," he said. "I am petrified. I go home at night and I can’t get in my garage because of the frogs. They’re right in front of the damn door, OK?” He said that due to his phobia, his grown daughter would have to come over to “shoo” away the frogs.
Marinaccio was victorious after suing the Town of Clarence and a nearby subdivision developer for allegedly intentionally diverting water runoff onto his land. A judge awarded him $1.6 million: $1.3 million from the Town of Clarence and another $328,400 in punitive damages from the developer, Bernard Keiffer, 83.
“I beat the government,” said Marinaccio, who claims his phobia of frogs started during his childhood in Italy, where he was chased away by a man holding bullfrogs after he his entered his property looking for figs.
Marinaccio claims the runoff issues started in 2000, with the wetlands growing up to 37 acres in size by 2009.
According to the report, Marinaccio is a self-made millionaire who owns Accadia Site Contracting, a road construction company, but he said he had to file the lawsuit after claiming Keiffer treated him like a “dumb Italian” after he was first asked to correct the issue.
“They put a pipe from a mitigation pond on my property and the pipe drains the water right onto my property,” said Marinaccio. “I didn’t want to sue anybody. I just want them to get rid of the water on my property. I didn’t want to be here. I haven’t broken any laws.”
Marinaccio already has plans for his soon-to-be corrected land.
“I’m going to put cows out there,” he said.