“When it hits, it feels like a gunshot,” said Athina Tenczar, 36. “It’s very scary.”
“We are still on edge,” added Erik Tenczar, 43. “It’s been emotionally draining for us.”
Parents of three daughters aged 2 to 5, the Tenczars have finally returned in a major lawsuit for anyone who lives next to a golf course: they have sued the Indian Pond Country Club for trespassing over the continued bombardment – and obtained a permanent injunction against golf balls on their property.
After a six-day trial in Plymouth Superior Court, a jury on December 6 awarded the Tenczars $3.5 million for damages and mental and emotional suffering. (With interest, the price totals $4.9 million, according to court records).
The country club has since reconfigured the tee box for the 15th hole, and the Tenczars say it’s been months since they’ve seen a golf ball on their property. In March, lawyers for the country club filed a notice saying it would seek to appeal the case.
“I am extremely confident that the injunction will be overturned,” said club solicitor John Flemming. “In my view, as a matter of law, the verdict of $3.5 million for alleged emotional distress flies in the face of the weight of the evidence.”
The Tenczars, with a newborn daughter and eager to expand their family, bought the brand new $750,000 home in Indian Pond Estates in April 2017. They weren’t golfers, but they immediately fell in love with the 3,000 square meter four-bedroom house. Bungalow on Country Club Way. They made a quick offer and moved in straight away.
The couple say they expected to put up with a certain amount of noise and distraction from living alongside a golf course. But they were unprepared for the scope, frequency and intensity of it all.
“Honestly, if you have all these houses on one course, I assumed it was safe,” said Athina Tenczar.
Erik Tenczar asked: “Should we have looked at the chances of our house being hit? Most likely. I do not know. We just fell in love with the house. It was our first house. »
But their castle has become their prison, said Bob Galvin, the Tenczars’ attorney.
“They bought what they thought was their dream home and it became a nightmare for them,” Galvin said. “They couldn’t do anything outside during golf season.”
It would take about a month before the first encounter with a golf ball, a near miss in the fairway. A golf ball bounced off Erik Tenczar’s feet as he pulled away her newborn from her car seat.
The first broken window was discovered in the attic while Erik was showing his father around. The next window to go was below deck, while the Tenczars were above. Then the window above the toy area was hit, spraying shrapnel over the play kitchen and building blocks.
And there was the moment when after filling up the kiddie pool, a golf ball landed in the water.
Numerous calls were made to the clubhouse with little or no response, Erik Tenczar said.
“We started calling the police because we couldn’t do anything else,” said Athina Tenczar.
But there was little the police could do other than warn the club. Seeking solutions before hiring a lawyer, the Tenczars consulted with a golf course expert and got an appraisal for a net, only to be told a net couldn’t be built high enough to prevent the bullets to enter.
“So a year goes by, and another year goes by, and we face this every day through the summer, until we’re like, ‘What else do we do? ‘” said Erik Tenczar.
“We never wanted a trial; nobody wants a trial,” said Athina Tenczar. “We tried to come in civilly and work with them. We had a communication, but it stopped.
Flemming, the club’s solicitor, said the club consulted with the golf course architect and tried a number of suggestions.
“It’s not true that the golf course did nothing,” Flemming said. “A suggestion that we have absolutely no response, I don’t think is accurate at all.”
Of the houses lining the course, the Tenczars’ house is exceptionally situated, elevated on an embankment which puts it in the line of sight from the 15th tee. The houses of their neighbors are less affected.
The real problem, Flemming said, is that the country club has an easement which extends to all the residential lots, approximately 50, which adjoin the golf course.
“That’s what the legal documents say,” Flemming said. “The judge disagreed with us; but he does not have the last word on this.
The Tenczars say they were asked why they didn’t just sell the place and be done with it.
“Do you want to buy it?” asked Athina Tenczar.
She shook her head. “We’re not going to give this to another family.”