Paul Marinaccio, a 65-year-old western New York resident who is terrified of frogs, won a $1.6 million jury verdict against the town of Clarence, N.Y., and a developer whose construction project turned part of his land into a frog-infested swamp.
"I'm petrified of the little creatures," Marinaccio testified at the trial, the Buffalo News reports. "You people don't understand, 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?"
The jury evidently did understand, and awarded Marinaccio $1.3 million in compensatory damages from the town and $328,400 in compensatory damages from the developer. The developer was also ordered to pay $250,000 in punitive damages.
The punitive damages award was thrown out by an appeals court in New York, which cited a lack of evidence of "spite or malice, or a fraudulent or evil motive on the part of the defendant, or such a conscious and deliberate disregard... that the conduct may be called wilful or wanton".
"We find that although the injury was considerable and the acts undeniably intentional, the evidence in this case was insufficient for an award of punitive damages," the court ruled.
The March 21 appeals court ruling, reported Sunday evening by the News, effectively ended the legal dispute, which went to trial in 2009. The town's insurance company reportedly paid the $1.3 million it was found liable for.
Marinaccio would reportedly call on his adult daughter several times a week to remove frogs that blocked his way. At one point he paid someone to collect the amphibians in a bucket to assuage his fears, which he says stem from a childhood memory of a man chasing after him with bullfrogs in hand.
"In the winter, it's OK, because I know there's no frogs," Marinaccio said, according to the News. "But in the summertime, I mean I'm a damn prisoner in my own home."
In addition to the financial award, the town has agreed to dig drainage ditches along the edge of Marinaccio's 40-acre property.