orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

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April 9, 2013

Frog-phobic man awarded $1.6M over runoff flooding

CLARENCE, N.Y. — Paul Marinaccio Sr. traces his fear of frogs to a childhood incident in Italy when a man holding bullfrogs chased him away after he'd wandered from the vineyard where his parents worked.

Decades later, he found himself describing his phobia to a jury, calling himself "a prisoner in my own home" after runoff water from a nearby development turned his 40-acre property into wetlands and inundated it with frogs.

"I am petrified. I go home at night and I can't get in my garage because of the frogs," Marinaccio testified in 2009. "They're right in front of the damn door, OK?"

It was part of a seven-year legal fight involving Marinaccio, the town of Clarence and a developer that, according to The Buffalo News, finally ended last month when the state's highest court ruled that Marinaccio, who was awarded $1.6 million in compensation after the 2009 trial, is not entitled to an additional $250,000 in punitive damages.

Marinaccio sued Clarence, a Buffalo suburb, and Kieffer Enterprises Inc. after runoff diverted onto Marinaccio's property from a new Kieffer subdivision turned it into wetlands. A town engineer initially said the water would flow into a ditch elsewhere on Kieffer property. The town later discovered the ditch was actually on Marinaccio's property, and that it was too small to handle the flow of water.

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