HOUSTON - Court has been held in some pretty unusual spots since the pandemic started but typically everyone is attending virtually. However, that wasn't the case today. One Houston judge decided to hold his hearing outside in front of a home that one Houstonian says is causing his family a lot of heartache.
"It acts as an animal house really. It's like living next to a zoo,” and not in a good way says Ernest Fuhrmann who says so many wild animals are living in the house next door to him, it caused his house to be infested with bird mites.
“They were biting my wife. We found bird mites in my newborn baby's crib. I've personally caught, trapped, and released 26 animals, 15 raccoons, and 11 possums." Fuhrmann's cameras often catch packs of raccoons running along his fence at night.
Fuhrmann and his family moved into their home in 2016 but no one lived in the house next door and Fuhrmann says the condition of the home has gotten consistently worse.
"It wasn't about a cosmetic appearance of his house and it didn't become an issue until it started intruding on the enjoyment of my home". So Fuhrman says he started complaining to the City of Houston. "It basically was fruitless. I mean they came out and inspected a couple of times. One inspection two years ago was that they just had to trim some vines on the side of the house."
Now Fuhrmann has filed a lawsuit. They've had three virtual hearings and the fourth was held onsite in front of the house in question. “The judge has been very thorough, impressively thorough in this case".
Fuhrmann's neighbors filed out of their homes to show their support while the hearing was taking place.
"It meant a lot. They've been very supportive. It meant a lot to me and my wife."
The man who owns the home bought it in 2003 but has never lived there. His attorney says “in the spirit of resolving the case we will probably tear the house down in the next few months.”
I reached out to the City of Houston's Neighborhood Protection Department, which says "The property was inspected by the Department of Neighborhoods on 2/28/2020 for nuisances, inoperable vehicle, and dangerous building violations. Violation notices were mailed and 2 extensions were given due to COVID-19. The nuisance case was closed, and the dangerous building case was approved by Legal for a Dangerous Building Hearing on 9/30/2020. Scheduling of this hearing is pending due to COVID-19. The department is finalizing plans to implement virtual hearings in the near future."