Friday, December 17, 2010

Matt Roloff comments on lawsuit against Washington County

The Capital Press has an article regarding the lawsuit the Roloffs filed against Washington County. It contains some quotes from Matt and a few extra details.

Among the details:

"The inspector's actions constituted an "unreasonable search and seizure without lawful authority" and violated Roloff's right to due process, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit seeks $200,000 in damages for trespass, invasion of privacy, emotional distress and civil rights violations, as well as an injunction barring further unauthorized inspections.

"It's an interesting erosion of constitutional rights," said Roloff. "We feel like we've been unfairly targeted for many years."

Upon reporting the incident to the Washington County Sheriff's Office, the Roloffs were informed that it was county policy to allow inspectors to "surreptitiously go onto private property of its citizens without notice to them," the complaint said.

"That response is what put us over the edge to file" a lawsuit, said Roloff.

The farm includes several structures -- a frontier town, medieval castle, tree fort and a pirate ship -- that serve to attract visitors during the fall pumpkin season.
Roloff's "agritainment" venture has had past problems with state and county governments over zoning issues, but he said inspectors have never entered the farm without permission.

"The difference this time is they passed multiple no-trespassing signs and basically snuck onto the property," he said.

Roloff is represented by Donald Joe Willis, an attorney who earlier this year won a $1.15 million judgment on behalf of deceased property-rights advocate Dorothy English against Oregon's Multnomah County.

Capital Press was unable to reach the attorney representing Washington County in the case."


You can read the full article:

http://www.capitalpress.com/oregon/mp-roloff-lawsuit-121710

34 comments:

Debbie said...

Why isn't the county's lawyers responding with a comment? I think they need some better lawyers.

Brandon said...

Ah, so they hooked up with a lawyer that makes his living suing Washington county.

Go Roloffs! $200,000 will make it all better. Greedy money hungry bloodsuckers. Just like Jesus wanted!

Rap541 said...

Why isn't the county's lawyers responding with a comment? I think they need some better lawyers.

Because for 200k, its likely cheaper to settle. Particularly since a settlement offer will be for less.

Brandon said...

I hope they don't settle. The county should fight it. It encourages people to go around suing each other. It's so scummy, in my opinion.

Shadow said...

Sadly, the county probably will settle. No matter how strong their case, if they can make it all go away for less than the cost of going through a full trial, they will settle, because that is actually in the best (short-term) interests of the taxpayers they serve. I'm sure Matt and his lawyer are just waiting to count their free money. I just hope the county can catch Matt with a bunch of violations in the future and impose a huge fine. Like, oh, I don't know, $200,000.

Deb said...

I wish they didn't do this. I don't support lawsuits that claim "emotional distress". Money, money, money. The Roloffs think money will make everything better. Don't they have enough already? I guess not. They should stop thinking about themselves and start looking at what is right and moral.

Carly said...

I think the Roloffs are tempting karma. When people live their lives and let the love of money dictate their decisions and morals, fate often has a way of coming back around.

Mike P. said...

Would you eat in a restaurant that wouldn't cooperate with health inspectors, or that insisted on knowing in advance the times an inspector planned to come?

I sure wouldn't, and I for one am glad that public safety inspectors--who represent MY interests--are not required to make appointments. The reasons are pretty obvious.

Typically, Roloff slides past the real issues to attack, instead, those who raise them. He also misstates the issues, and responds then to his misstatements. He is not an honest man. He is not an ethical man.

Roloff would have us believe that this incident happened completely in a vacuum. There's no history to it, if you accept his account.

Or maybe a tad bit of history, of his own devising: "Unfair targeting," i.e. an attack on the county for doing its lawful business.

At no point here, or in press reports elsewhere, does Roloff directly answer his neighbors' complaints. The complaints are "unfair," he says; people are "picking on" him; complaining neighbors should "get a life." But never are the specifics--the REAL issues--acknowledged.

Most particularly, Roloff refuses even to acknowledge that he has a role in all this complaining; that his actions play a part; that his behavior has consequences. To hear him, it's all just jealousy and sour grapes over his "success" (whatever THAT might be).

I guess it's churlish to note that people complain when they find their own property devalued, and their quiet enjoyment of it destroyed by the legally questionable actions of a neighbor who believes himself immune to common responsibility. That's what drives these complaints, not jealousy.

That Roloff lives among others is an obvious fact. That he believes that he lives in a castle on an island, and has filled the moat and raised the drawbridge, is apparently also a fact.

I'm not holding my breath that reality will trump fantasy, but I'd sure like to bet on it.

Norm in Melbourne, Fl said...

I congratulate the Roloff parents for raising a wonderful family and for all the great hours we spent visiting with their family. We will all miss your weekly adventures and we wish you a wonderful, healthy and happy future.

Erin Stal said...

Mike that only makes sense during the times you're open to the public. and/or serving food. For example if you had a party at your house and were serving food from your kitchen the government should only be allowed to come inspect anytime from 48 hours prior to your party all the way to 3 days after your house party concluded. Just to make sure you cleaned up the mess afterwards. I get that. Roloff's food vendors and even their farm is subjected to inspection for compliance during operation. It's going into your home "any time they like" that I'm sure the Roloffs' have the problem with.

Lynn C said...

Erin Stal, good point. I agree.

When people are talking about pumpkin attractions and the public, I think we need to remember this inspection came in the middle of July. The Roloff farm is not open to the public in July or August or most of September!

NJC said...

"The Roloff farm is not open to the public in July or August or most of September!"

It's open year round to anyone with $300.

David said...

Erin and Lynn, first you're putting a lot of stock in the editing of LPBW. What does Matt always say when there is a criticism of him as a result of the something on the show? Silly, silly people for believing a tv show that is all about creating drama.

For me, the tell tale sign was Matt's reaction on the scene. He said it was a big misunderstanding. That was his reaction until he talked to lawyers and had money bags in his eyes.

Matt is not the most understanding person in the world. For him to show up and say it was misunderstanding tells me there was probably some prior communication between Matt and the inspector.

Lynn and Erin, it doesn't matter if they were open for pumpkin season. Safety is safety. What if the ark had toppled over and injured one of the kids friends? Would the parents have sued the county for not inspecting the structure in a timely fashion? There is a precident at the Roloffs. The trebechet. Two people were seriously injured. It's also on camera that the bridge Matt had built was narrow and Zach almost drove passengers off the bridge.

The county safety inspectors needs to be on their toes.

Brandon said...

"It's open year round to anyone with $300."

NJC, great point!

Anon19 said...

To those people saying it's open to the public for $300: That's not exactly open to the public. Those were private tours, not public.

And the tours were stopped at some time during the summer or fall, I believe. I can't remember exactly when, but when the Roloffs stopped the PRIVATE tours, it implies that their farm was completely closed off to the public.

The Roloffs' friends are not part of the "public" most of you are referring to. They are personal friends, not strangers.

Brandon said...

Anon 18, you're missing the point.

The Farm was open to public if they paid $300. Anybody that had $300 to blow and wanted to give it to the Roloffs to put towards their vehicle collection, could go. All they have to do is click on "Golden Pass" on the Roloff website and schedule a day.

That's no different than how the public books for lots of tourist attractions.

The people buying the Golden Pass are members of the public, not personal friends (though for public safety I don't think it matters anyway, David makes a good point about *if* the boat had fell and injured one of the friends)

Because you posted that, I checked.

The date this whole thing happened was July 16th.
Matt posted on Facebook August 18th that the private tours were suspended.

The Roloffs can't say they were not open to the public. Anybody with $300 could have been on the farm and injured if the boat had collapsed.

Brandon said...


Aug 17
Matt Roloff = Wow... Must be peek summer travel time. I just completed 8 private farm tours already this week.. 12 more scheduled between now and the weekend. I love getting to meet fans from all over the country/world. Very interesting.


Aug 18
Matt Roloff = ANNOUNCEMENT: Private tours of Roloff Farm are temporarily suspended.. due to over demand/booking--Unless you are already confirmed. I'm sorry I made the mistake of publicly announcing this option and triggered more requests then we can schedule. A tour of the farm is still available for $6.00 per person during our ...normal Pumpkin season. We look forward to seeing you then. :)

Shadow said...

Inspections occur not just when businesses are open to the public, but when they change the nature of the business. If a restaurant renovates, they are subject to inspections during the renovation. If an amusement park adds a ride, they are subject to inspection during installation. Would you like to ride a rollercoaster that hadn't been inspected first?

When a large structure suddenly appeared on the farm, it was a matter of public concern. Apparently Matt (once again) failed to notify the county office of this new addition to his "attractions." Knowing Matt's history with the county, I am not surprised that a concerned neighbor reported the structure and that the county sent someone out to see exactly what was going on, and to determine if the structure was safe and properly secured. We're not talking about a rowboat parked in a field.

But it isn't just the fact that the farm is open to the public. It is a COMMERCIAL enterprise all year long, and as such, must comply with federal, state and local requirements to provide safe working conditions for the employees. Even "private" farms that are not open to the public must comply with safety regulations. Matt employs people to work on the farm, so once again, the county has every right to ensure he is complying with all safety regulations and permits AT ANY TIME.

But hey, they're just little people who don't count. We don't need to make their working environment safe. Right? Right?

Sheesh...

Terry Collins said...

Where is the Roloffs empathy for their fellow man?

They want to destroy someones life. The inspector might have acted badly when he was intimidated by an angry Amy and a camera crew. I think he should have identified himself. But he is human. Humans make mistakes in judgements. I doubt he is a an evil or bad person. He was there to do his job to protect the citizens in the county.

He has already been subject to discipline, his department admitted he was disciplined for not identifying himself properly to Amy. The Roloffs have received an apology.

That's not good enough for the Roloffs. They want to destroy the man's life. I am sure the man is not evil and has a family. That apparently doesn't matter to the Roloffs. They are on the hunt for money and vengence.

Their lack of compassion as human beings is very sad.

The Roloffs have 4 kids. Chances are, sometime in one of their kids lives they are going to make a mistake and be at the mercy of someone who could hire a lawyer in search of money and try to destroy their lives.

May Matt and Amy pray that if that happens one day, that the person wronged by their son or daughter has more compassion and moral values than the Roloffs show to their fellow man.

The Roloffs reaction to this makes everything they say about being Christians a complete disgrace. Amy does the interview talking about Christ, she's not perfect and talks about forgiveness. However her actions tell a different a story. She has no compassion for another person, the Roloffs are ruled by a quest for money and who cares what lives they destroy in the process.

The Roloffs are very ruthless and hateful people in my opinion.

Rap541 said...

"The Roloffs' friends are not part of the "public" most of you are referring to. They are personal friends, not strangers."

As a side note, it doesn't really matter in some ways. Remember the last inspection issue Matt televised? The railing that was too short?

Thats an example of building codes being for everybody*. Yes, Matt, Amy and Zach are little people and the shorter railing suits them better but their other family members are average height and so are most of the family friends who visit. And despite Matt's protests - average height railings do not make his patio more dangerous for him, they just would have obstructed his view, while the too short railings really could be a problem for some of average height.

*With respect, this is also an example of how the building inspector (and it appears to be the same evil bastard) allowed Matt to play fast and loose with the rules instead of taking a hard line. Dumping a mound of dirt that will soon erode away is not *raising* the ground level to bring the railings into code.

Anon 19 said...

Rap, I get your point, however, half the family is average height and half is little. The inspector said that when the Roloffs have people, it's dangerous to have a short railing for them. Matt made the point "So I have to do this (tall railings) so VISITORS to the farm don't get hurt, but the people who LIVE HERE have to suffer?" I don't care so much about whether or not a tall railing would be unsafe for the LP Roloffs (hitting their head, and Zach has a shunt). Even with the shorter railings, the twins' friends seemed to enjoy sitting on them and hanging out on them, and not getting hurt. Also, if Matt can find a way to beat the system (legally), then good for him. I've "beat the system" in a few legal ways. My senior year of high school I was bored of taking HS English, so I decided to do it at a nearby community college to get HS and college credit. I took another subject there, so each day I didn't have to go in to HS until 10:20ish and I only had 4 classes instead of the usual 6. I had less work in that college class than almost anyone taking 12th grade English. Then when I entered college, I was almost a sophomore. That was my way of beating the system.

Rap541 said...

In fairness, Anon, higher railings don't make Matt and Amy and Zach suffer physical injuries.

Matt made the point himself, he wanted the railings at about shoulder height for him, so *his view* wasn't obstructed, and he wanted the deck to be high enough that he could potentially roll a wheel chair onto the deck with no steps down to the deck.

The problem of the railings is that the deck is actually fairly high off the ground, in order to accomadate potential wheel chairs. Had the deck been lower to the ground, the lower railings wouldn't have been a problem to begin with.

It becomes a safety issue becase the low railings really don't protect average height people from the potential fall. There are plenty of average height people who visit... and forgive me - show me Matt, Amy, or Zach being physically injured by a high railing - the railings they face daily outside the home?

I get that the higher railings potentially ruin the view but cause physical suffering? That's nonsense. Frankly I was surprised the inspector let Matt get away with the dirt piles because it doesn't eliminate the safety issue for average height people - namely falling or tripping over the too low railing and taking a nasty drop off the deck.

That no one has gotten hurt doesn't mean that its less dangerous than Matt, Amy, and Zach coping with a taller railing - and aside from Matt's view being obstructed, I really see no way he's in constant danger of suffering physical injury from high railings on back yard decks.

It's not my house - and good for Matt for throwing a hissy and threatening to sue to get his way on the railings (which he did) but the building inspector let him skate around a requirement that really is there for everybody. I'm not even sure this deck still exists in the origanal form, but if it is high off the ground still with those low railings and an average height gets hurt... I'm curious how that would turn out.

Your example of beating the system is great but doesn't potentially endanger others.

Rap541 said...

And in case I am not clear, to sum up. In a home of little people AND average height people, the home needs to be safe for everyone. I see no reason that higher railings are physically dangerous for little people. Aestically displeasing yes, but physically dangerous? No.

Shadow said...

YOu know, when they were going through the STORYLINE of "We're going to sell the farm!!!," I had to wonder - Sell to whom? The house was customized for Matt and Amy, from the bathrooms to the kitchen to the deck railing, so anyone coming in would have to pony up huge bucks to rip all that out and rebuild, or be willing to cook on their knees. Plus all those "agritainment attractions" everywhere.

Anyway, you had to know it was a joke from the start, since they just poured what, $3-500K into this huge renovation (yes, I know a lot was comped, but even so...).

Maybe Dana or Craw would buy the place, but in today's market, I'm thinking that it would be a pretty hard sell. Plenty of similar places without all the hassles available around Portland now. And you know Matt would think HIS place deserves top dollar!

Anonymous said...

http://search.municode.com/html/16681/level2/T8_C8.20.html

Title 8 Health and Safety, chapter 8.20 Nusiances - 8.20.070 Inspection, right of entry -
The health officer or his authorized representative shall conduct such inspections as he deems necessary to insure compliance with all provisions of this chapter and shall have right of entry at any reasonable hour to investigate complaints and to insure abatement of nuisances as provided in this chapter.


If Washington County has complaints on record about the ark, per the law they do have right of entry to investigate. That may be why the Roloffs are arguing both the constitionality and emotional distress.

Brandon said...

Thanks Anon. In other words...the cop was right. The Roloffs rights were not infringed upon. Government officials have that right. It was during a reasonable hour. The only thing the Roloffs can sue for is the frivolous "emotional distress".

Washington County's release said facts might have omitted by the show's producer's (Matt and Amy). My guess is that he might have rang the gate, Jeremy was probably sleeping (a summer afternoon...Jer plays with Mueller until the early morning and sleep until the afternoon) and didn't answer. Then the inspector walked past the gate to examine the newest safety concern.

According to what Anon posted, that is legal.

When Amy arrived back home and went nuts on him, he reacted poorly by not giving her his card right away. It's easy to make a wrong judgement when you have someone acting like a lunatic yelling at you and comes at you with a camera crew in tow.

Obviously, according to that, it was not an illegal entry.

Rap541 said...

Brandon what it comes down to is whether the county had reasonable complaints. The cop was likely citing this piece of law. Whether or not the Roloffs are unfairly targeted by their neighbors who call in the complaints.... as long as there are complaints, the county has to send someone out. And if no one answers the gate bell or whatever it is (I assume they have some sort of system on their front gate) and its daylight and there's a giant new boat propped up in the field screaming "attractive nuisance"....

Mind you, I still think the county will settle... the money amount is low.

Mike P. said...

@Brandon:

Someone elsewhere here (maybe it was me) noted that they are suing ONLY for emotional distress, and that that would seem to be a glaring indicator of their real intention: Milk the county.

This is especially telling after all Roloff's huffing and puffing about fourth-amendment violations, trespassing and so on.

Emotional distress is NOT a fourth-amendment violation. It's the sort of thing, like pain and suffering, that gets tacked on to lawsuits with bigger issues.

To me, this is pathetic grasping.

Mike P. said...

I've made an error. If I'd re-read the description of the Roloff suit above, I'd have seen that "emotional distress" is not the ONLY part of the suit as I've stated, but is in fact tacked on to other issues.

My apologies.

Christine said...

This shows that Matt was wrong when he posted on facebook that the cop was dead wrong when he told them it wasn't illegal for the inspector to set foot on the property.

Rap541 said...

No it wasn't you, Mike. The initial articles on the topic says the lawsuit is for emotional distress.

http://www.bizjournals.com/portland/news/2010/12/08/little-people-stars-sue-washington-co.html

http://www.kptv.com/news/26072742/detail.html

It wasn't until this later article that the constitutional issues were brought up. The earlier articles definetely focused on the emotional distress aspects.

Timothy said...

I wish these outlets would get a clue about what happened before writing about it. There is another article about it.

http://oregontaxnews.com/2010/12/28/little-people-stars-sue-washington-county-building-inspectors/

I want to scream everytime I read that the Roloffs claim that Wheeler allegedly came into contact with Roloff. He came into contact with her because she jumped into the driver's seat of his vehicle and onto his lap! They also admit that Amy noticed the logo on his truck. Like she really thought he was a stalker anyway.

Rap541 said...

And this article also focuses on the emotional distress aspect and not the constitutional law aspect, to go to Mike P. earlier confusion.

Anonymous said...

i think the Roloff's have a right to the lawsuit, since there was an invasion of privacy and trespassing.


hope tlc puts them back on tv.

i miss the Roloff's