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Jury rules in favor of backyard pizza oven owners in Cleveland Heights lawsuit

The lawsuit had been seeking punitive damages in excess of $25,000 from defendants Paul Schambs and Mary Lynne Newsome.

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — After a dispute about a backyard pizza oven landed Cleveland Heights neighbors in court, the verdict is in, with the jury ruling in favor of the defendants.

Thursday's ruling comes two days after the trial in the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court first began. Brooks and Mika Jones first filed their lawsuit in July 2021, alleging various concerns about their neighbor's use of the pizza oven.

According to the complaint, the situation dates back to May 2017 when the Jones family informed the defendants that use and operation of the oven would fill their residence “with smoke and fumes and causes the Joneses significant physical discomfort and emotional distress.”  The complaint also stated that “on many occasions” use and operation of the pizza oven “has caused intolerable smoke and fumes at the Jones residence, and has caused significant physical discomfort, mental anguish and loss of use and enjoyment” of their residence.

"When we have a smoke issue it disrupts everything," Brooks Jones said during testimony. "We have to constantly be on defense. We have to make new plans frequently. We have to leave our house frequently."

The lawsuit had been seeking punitive damages in excess of $25,000 from defendants Paul Schambs and Mary Lynne Newsome.

The Jones couple admitted to having gone over to their neighbor's home for pizza, enjoying the food and the visit prior to filing the suit. It makes the attorney for the defendants question, why sue now?

Here are other claims as written in the initial complaint:

  • The Joneses’ significant physical discomfort caused by defendants’ use, maintenance and operation of the oven includes coughing, sore throat, phlegm, headaches, burning eyes, dizziness, lightheadedness, fogginess, heart palpitations and sore lungs; the effects of the smoke and fumes last for a few days. Smoke odors linger on the Joneses’ clothing and hair and on their pets’ fur.
  • The smoke and fumes from the oven disrupt the Joneses’ use and enjoyment of the Jones residence for cooking and eating, sitting and reading, sitting on their back porch and in their living room, exercise and many other aspects of the Joneses’ daily life.
  • The smoke and fumes from the oven disrupt and prevent the Joneses’ social and family gatherings including holiday events at the Jones property and the Jones residence.
  • Regardless of the presence or absence of visible smoke, the oven releases noxious fumes and odors at all times it is being used and operated.
  • The periods of intense, thick smoke can last 20 minutes or more. During and between periods of thick, billowing smoke, the smoke and fumes infiltrate and remain present inside the Jones residence.

Read the full complaint from July 2021 in the document below:

3News' Ryan Haidet and Carmen Blackwell contributed to this story.

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