Just the threat of a lawsuit sends a ripple effect through one East Coast town

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: October 11, 2012

BEHOLD the power of a lawsuit — actually, just the threat of a lawsuit.

In Avon, Conn., Chrissie D'Esopo keeps a beautiful home and garden. So beautiful, in fact, that for the past 20 years, people have delighted in touring the grounds. These tours have enriched D'Esopo, an artist and expert gardener, and also benefited the community at large because funds raised from the tours have gone to local charities.

The Interval House, which assists battered women and their families, has been a beneficiary. So too have the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, local museums, the Avon public library and local schools. There have been many others. In all, about $175,000 has been raised through the years for various causes.

Now an injured ankle may change everything.

During a garden tour this summer, an Avon woman fell on a brick pathway outside the house. According to The Hartford Courant, she filed an insurance claim against D'Esopo and the two nonprofit groups that were benefiting from that day's tour.

The insurance companies were willing to cover the woman's medical expenses, but her husband, who didn't take the tour, wasn't satisfied with having the medical bills taken care of. Instead, D'Esopo told the newspaper, he has threatened to sue for — get this — his own “pain and suffering” related to his wife's injury.

The newspaper account didn't say whether the husband had actually secured an attorney to bring the claim. You'd like to think the man would be advised to just accept the insurance money and move on down the garden path, but in this litigious age that's probably asking too much.

Either way, D'Esopo isn't waiting for the other shoe to drop. She's ending the charity functions on her property. “I risk losing my house by having garden tours,” she said.

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