United States District Court, D. Connecticut
DAVE WILLIAMS and REBA WILLIAMS, Plaintiffs and Counter Defendants,
RANDALL BEAN, ELIZABETH BLACK BEAN, et al., Defendants and Counter Claimants.
RULING AND ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS COUNTERCLAIMS
AND MOTION TO SEAL
A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Williams and Reba Williams (collectively, “Plaintiffs,
” “Counter Defendants” or
“Williamses”) brought this action against Randall
Bean, Elizabeth Black, Christopher Bean, and Matthew Bean
(collectively, “Defendants, ” “Counter
Claimants, ” or “Beans”) in the Connecticut
Superior Court for the Judicial District of New London. ECF
No. 1-2. The Beans removed this case to this Court. ECF No.
1. The Beans then filed Counterclaims against the Williamses.
ECF No. 26. The Williamses filed a motion to dismiss the
Counterclaims. ECF No. 30. Defendants then filed Amended
Counterclaims. ECF No. 41. The Court agreed to consider the
original motion to dismiss, ECF No. 30, as applying to the
Amended Counterclaims, and allowed the parties to file
supplemental briefing as to the new allegations in the
Amended Counterclaims. ECF No. 49; ECF No. 50. The Williamses
then filed a supplemental motion to dismiss as to the new
allegations in the Amended Counterclaims. ECF No. 57.
parties briefed the motion to dismiss as to the Counterclaims
and the Amended Counterclaims, the parties indicated that the
Williamses would be requesting that Ms. Williams's
deposition transcript and all exhibits to that deposition be
designated Confidential under the Court's Standing
Protective Order, ECF No. 11, and that the parties would,
therefore, be filing documents under seal pending the
resolution of a dispute over whether the documents should, in
fact, be sealed. See, e.g., 4/7/2017 Motion to Seal
at 1-2, ECF No. 39 (“Defendants object to
Plaintiffs' designation of the entire transcript of Reba
Williams' deposition and all exhibits thereto being
designated Confidential . . . Defendants assume that the
designations of the deposition transcript and exhibits were
made because Plaintiffs believe they implicate a legitimate
expectation of privacy. Defendants disagree . . . Defendants
plan to meet and confer with counsel for Plaintiffs regarding
this matter, and then seek relief from the Court if such meet
and confer does not yield positive results.”). On July
24, 2017, the Court provisionally granted the most recent
motion to seal pending the resolution of the underlying
dispute over whether Ms. Williams's deposition and the
attached exhibits should be sealed. ECF No. 64.
reasons that follow, the Court here GRANTS
in part and DENIES in part the Williams'
Motion to Dismiss the Beans' Counterclaims.
explained below, the Court ORDERS that all
documents must be unsealed.
FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS 
matter is a dispute between neighbors. The Williamses
allegedly reside in Greenwich, Connecticut. Amend. Countercl.
¶ 14, ECF No. 40. The Beans allegedly reside in Boston,
Massachusetts. Id. ¶ 13. Matthew Bean and
Christopher Bean are the adult children of Mr. Bean and Ms.
Black. Id. ¶¶ 20-21.
October of 2014, Mr. Bean and Ms. Black allegedly purchased a
home at 28 Water Street in Stonington, Connecticut (the
“Bean Property”). Amend. Countercl. ¶ 22.
The house on the Bean Property was built around 1870 and in
need of repair at the time. Id. The Bean Property
allegedly had, as a defining characteristic, uninterrupted
views of Montauk Point, Fishers Island, and the Fishers
Island Sound (“Water Views”). Id. ¶
23. The Beans allegedly purchased the Bean Property primarily
because of the Water Views and the property's waterfront
location. Id. ¶ 24. The Beans allege that they
began moving into the Bean Property on June 5, 2016.
Id. ¶ 77.
Williamses allegedly own two houses in Stonington that
immediately surround the Bean Property (collectively, the
“Williams Properties”). Amend. Countercl. ¶
48. One house, located at 24 Water Street, is immediately
next door to the Bean Property (“24 Water
Street”). Id. ¶ 49. The second house,
located at 29 Water Street, is located directly across the
street from the Bean Property (“29 Water
Street”). Id. One of the Williams Properties
has a dock. Id. ¶ 42.
allege that the Williamses “have a history of
antagonistic relations with the Stonington community as
detailed in an article published by the New London Day in
March 2011.” Amend. Countercl. ¶ 50. Defendants
further allege that the Williamses filed two separate
lawsuits in or around 2009 against the previous owners of the
Bean Property, alleging a property line dispute. Id.
¶¶ 51-52. The Beans allege that the previous owners
of the Bean Property sold them the property “well below
their initial asking price, in part, because of the
Williams' harassing actions.” Id. ¶
Design Plan and Stonington Planning and Zoning
the Beans purchased the Bean Property, they allegedly met
with an architect to determine what renovations they could
make to the existing house under the Town of Stonington
Planning and Zoning Commission (“Stonington
P&Z”) Guidelines. Amend. Countercl. ¶ 25. An
experienced architect allegedly assisted them in developing a
renovation design (the “Design Plan”) that
included installing predominantly south and southwest-facing
windows to “take advantage of south facing solar gain,
the natural light, and the Water Views.” Id.
¶ 26. The Design Plan allegedly placed as few windows as
feasible on the north side of the home because of the absence
of any solar gain or natural light from that direction.
Id. ¶ 27. Overall, the Design Plan allegedly
added windows and changed the usage of certain spaces, but
did not change the footprint or height of the existing house
on the Bean Property. Id. ¶ 28.
submitting the Design Plan to the Stonington P&Z, the
Beans allege that they asked the real estate agents for the
Bean Property to inquire as to whether the Williamses, as the
owner of the properties next door and across the street from
the Bean Property, had any objections. Id. ¶
29. The real estate agent allegedly reported that the
Williamses did not object to the Design Plan. Id.
March of 2015, the Beans allegedly worked with the Stonington
P&Z officer to submit their design plan for approval.
Id. ¶ 31. Many in the Stonington community
allegedly supported the plan, with around 50 neighbors either
sending letters of support to Stonington P&Z or planning
to attend the plan review hearing in support. Id.
¶ 32. Two households allegedly objected to the Design
Plan. Id. ¶ 33. The Williamses were, allegedly,
not among these objectors. Id. The Stonington
P&Z allegedly approved of the Design Plan unanimously.
Id. ¶ 35.
the Stonington P&Z's approval of the Design Plan for
the Bean Property, the individuals who had allegedly opposed
the Design Plan, Martina Durner and Larry Alstiel and Paul
Koushouris (collectively, the “Design Plan
Objectors”), allegedly filed two lawsuits against
“the Town of Stonington, Stonington Planning &
Zoning, Stonington Zoning Board of Appeals, and the Bean
Family.” Id. ¶ 36. Ms. Durner and Mr.
Alstiel allegedly contacted multiple neighbors, including the
Williamses, in an effort to build support for Ms. Durner and
Mr. Alstiel's lawsuit. Id. ¶ 37.
November of 2015, the Beans allegedly agreed to a stipulated
settlement with the Design Plan Objectors that the Beans,
moving forward, would not make changes to the Design Plan for
a period of ten years. Id. ¶ 38. The Williamses
allegedly named Ms. Durner and Mr. Alstiel as principal
witnesses in the matter currently pending before the Court.
Id. ¶ 39.
around August of 2015, the Beans allegedly filed an
application for a dock permit to build a short dock on the
Bean Property. Id. ¶ 41. They allegedly sent
notifications to their immediate neighbors, including the
Williamses. Id. Mr. Williams allegedly opposed the
Defendants' dock permit application. Id. ¶
42. The opposition letter from the Williamses allegedly
stated, in relevant part, that “[w]hen we brought our
home, 24 Water Street, six years ago, we were informed that
no more docks would be permitted in the Commons to the Point
area.” Id. ¶ 43. The Stonington Harbor
Marine Commission allegedly approved the Beans' dock
permit application unanimously, with a 10-0 vote, roughly one
month later. Id. ¶ 44.
Beans allegedly proceeded to make a necessary dock permit
application to the State of Connecticut Department of Energy
and Environmental Protection (“DEEP”). Amend.
Countercl. ¶ 45. On February 29, 2016, DEEP allegedly
granted tentative approval for the dock permit for the Bean
Property. Id. The Beans allege that, around the time
of DEEP's February 29, 2016, tentative approval for their
dock permit application, the Williamses began to harass them.
Id. ¶ 47. On March 28, 2016, DEEP allegedly
gave formal approval for the dock permit, and the Beans began
preparing to construct the dock. Id. ¶ 68. The
Williamses allegedly appealed the decision to DEEP, which
allegedly denied their appeal. Id. ¶ 69.
Allegedly Harassing Activities by Mr. Williams and Ms.
Correspondence with Individuals
August 31, 2015, Ms. Williams allegedly sent an e-mail to a
neighbor Lynn Young that read, in part, “Mr. Bean plans
to build high enough to see over our hedge. If he does and
peers into our privacy, we'll know he's a peeping
tom.” Amend. Countercl. ¶ 34.
February 9, 2016, Ms. Williams allegedly sent an e-mail to
another neighbor, stating that the renovated Bean Property
“ruin[ed] the look of Water Street, ” and called
Mr. Bean a “barbarian.” Amend. Countercl. ¶
March 4, 2016, Ms. Williams allegedly sent another e-mail to
someone named “Josie, ” stating in relevant part
that Mr. Bean “told the world he'd build to see
into our yard and he's done it.” Amend. Countercl.
¶ 55 n. 3.
around March 6, 2016, Mr. Williams allegedly sent an e-mail
to neighbor Betty Richards that read, in relevant part:
“Reba wants me to send this on. For her, the dock does
it. Can't live with that and all else next door.
We'll have to move.” Amend. Countercl. ¶ 46.
Williams allegedly also sent an e-mail to Mr. Alstiel on
March 7, 2016, stating that Mr. Bean “had said he
planned to build so high he could see over our hedge into our
garden.” Amend. Countercl. ¶ 59.
April 5, 2016, Ms. Williams allegedly sent an e-mail to
neighbor Spike Lobdell, which stated that “Mr. Bean was
telling people how he was going to build a tall place which
would overlook ours, including our garden - ruining our
privacy. He did what he said he would.” Amend.
Countercl. ¶ 70 n. 4.
18, 2016, Ms. Williams allegedly sent an e-mail to neighbor
Annette Blaugrund, stating that Mr. Williams and Ms. Williams
“were being ‘spied upon' by the Bean
Family.” Amend. Countercl. ¶ 85.
20, 2016, Mr. Williams allegedly sent identical e-mails to
five neighbors, Tom Hausman, Al Razzano, Heidi Reavis, Betty
Richards and Mary Fitzgibbons. Amend. Countercl. ¶ 86.
This e-mail allegedly stated that “the Beans were
snooping on the Williams” and further stated that
“last week a young man from next door began taking
photographs of us in our garden.” Id.
October 20, 2016, Ms. Williams allegedly sent an e-mail to
Ms. Young, stating that “‘just like [previous
owner of the Bean Property] Hobbs, ' the Bean Family
‘won't stop.'” Amend. Countercl. ¶
107. This e-mail allegedly went on to accuse one Defendant of
“staring at Ms. Williams” and further stated that
the Williamses only sued the Beans “because the Beans
refused twice to agree to stay out of our property.”
Id. The Beans allege that the allegations about them
in this e-mail are false. Id. ¶ 108. The Beans
further allege that these accusations are likely to harm
their reputations and damage them in their professional
endeavors. Id. ¶ 109. The Beans further allege
that these accusations are likely to harm Christopher
Beans's reputation and damage him in his nascent
professional endeavors. Id. ¶ 110.
Correspondence with Multiple Recipients
The March 4, 2016 E-mail to Multiple Stonington
March 4, 2016, at a time when the Beans allege that they had
yet to meet the Williamses, the Beans allege that they
learned that the Williamses had circulated a disparaging
email about them to numerous residents of Stonington. Amend
Countercl. ¶¶ 54-55. In this e-mail, the Williamses
allegedly accused the Beans of stating they were
“friends” with Mr. Williams and Ms. Williams.
Id. ¶ 55. This e-mail further alleged that Mr.
Bean and Ms. Black told an unidentified third party that they
had designed the Bean Property “so that they could look
into the Williams' garden.” Id.
March 5, 2016, Ms. Black allegedly responded to this e-mail
by sending Mr. Williams an e-mail that stated, in relevant
part, that “we have never indicated in writing or
conversation that we are ‘friends with you or your
wife, ” and that “we have never, in writing or
conversation, indicated that the reason for this purchase was
so that we could look at your gardens, ” and “I
can assure you that we have absolutely no intention of
interfering with your privacy and look forward to being
cordial and respectful neighbors.” Amend. Countercl.
Williams allegedly responded to Ms. Black's e-mail with a
March 7, 2016, e-mail to neighbor Ms. Richards, stating that,
just as in prior years when they had been “made
miserable” by the previous owner of the Bean Property,
whom Ms. Williams referred to as “Horrible Hobbs,
” it was happening again. Amend. Countercl. ¶ 58.
Ms. Williams's e-mail allegedly said that Ms. Black's
was “lying” in Ms. Black's March 5, 2016,
Williams allegedly responded to Ms. Black's March 5,
2016, e-mail in March 7, 2016, e-mail stating, in relevant
I have no interest in the past. All that I care about is
recent behavior of your husband. You imply that I have
misstated facts about him. I have huge amounts of
backup from people who detest you both. Should I have to go
to court for anything -- they have all offered support. At
one time I thought you were innocent, and didn't know
anything about your husband's behavior. I now know
Amend. Countercl. ¶ 60 (emphasis in original). The Beans
allege that they have no knowledge of what
“behavior” Ms. Williams was referring to and the
Beans alleged that they were “baffled and
alarmed.” Id. ¶¶ 61-62. Mr. Bean
allegedly contacted the Stonington Police Department to
express his concerns about Ms. Williams's e-mail.
March 8, 2016, Mr. Bean allegedly sent an e-mail to both the
Williamses, explaining, among other things, that “I
want to make abundantly clear that at no stage did we ever
make any comments with regard to you, nor would we have any
reason to, ” and that “[w]e hope to be cordial
neighbors.” Countercl. ¶ 64. Mr. Bean allegedly
invited the Williamses to ask any questions about the
renovation plans at the Bean Property and further invited the
Williamses for drinks. Id. The e-mail emphasized
that the Beans “possess only goodwill with regard to
you, and a “hope that you will come to feel the same
an hour later on March 8, 2006, Ms. Williams allegedly
responded with an email stating that:
As a consequence of your constantly forcing yourself in our
lives we are leaving Stonington. We do not want to live next
door to you. Do not contact us again. You will always be the
person who has forced me away from a house and garden I love.
Amend. Countercl. ¶ 65.
E-mails to the “Private Lives” E-mail
March 14, 2016, Ms. Williams allegedly sent an e-mail to an
e-mail group called “Private Lives.” Amend.
Countercl. ¶ 67. This e-mail allegedly accused Mr. Bean
of improperly obtaining approval for renovations to the Bean
Property, and further allegedly that the renovations were
26, 2016, Ms. Williams allegedly sent another e-mail to
“Private Lives, ” stating that “Mr. Bean
had said that ‘[t]his house under renovation is going
to be so tall I will be able to look right into the
Williams' garden.'” Amend. Countercl. ¶
74. She allegedly further stated that “[t]the
renovations to the Bean Property were ‘designed for
spying' on the Williams, and again suggested that the
members of the Bean Family are peeping toms.”
Id. Neighbor Susan Kinsolving allegedly responded to
Ms. Williams's May 26, 2016, e-mail, writing that the
Williamses should “shin[e] very bright lights back at