Joel Coen and Frances McDormand purchased their Bolinas home as a peaceful retreat. Now it has become a legal battle zone.
Coen, an Oscar-winning director, and McDormand, an Oscar-winning actress, are suing their neighbors to resolve a festive dispute over a property line.
The couple claims that the owners of the next door, retired dentist Randolph Rush and his wife Donna, an artist, are ignoring a historic border and intruding on their land.
The Rushes have had their Bolinas home for 45 years, said their attorney, Edmond McGill. He said Coen and McDormand are themselves guilty of “deliberate invasions”.
“Randy and Donna refrained from filing a lawsuit like Coen and McDormond did because they wanted to continue enjoying their home safely without a big fight in court,” McGill said. “I am very disappointed that Coen and McDormand have filed a lawsuit.”
Coen and McDormand purchased the Bolinas property in 2005, according to the lawsuit. The couple thought that the “Bolinas culture in hand” and the surrounding open space made it “the ideal vacation,” wrote the couple’s attorney, Michelle Catapang.
A green belt separates their property from the Rush property. Coen and McDormand claim that the green belt has historically been recognized as part of the purchased property. As a result, the applicants claim, they accepted responsibility for the landscape and maintenance, to the benefit of both parties.
In 2007, the Rushes obtained a survey that positioned the property line 10 feet north of the alleged historic boundary. This setup put the green belt on the Rush property and cut off part of Coen / McDormand’s driveway, the lawsuit said.
It also created a potential legal problem for Coen and McDormand because he placed their garage inside the setback of the requested property.
The poll did not cause immediate legal disputes between the couples and Coen and McDormand say they continued to take responsibility for the green belt. Three years ago, however, the Rushes affirmed the ownership line and their control of the green belt, the lawsuit says.
Coen and McDormand got their survey, which claimed the allegedly historic property line. The couples agreed to enter the mediation and reached an interim agreement in May 2018. The new line gave the Rushes much of the green belt, the lawsuit says.
But the Rushes started beautifying and watering the green belt without ever finalizing the settlement, the plaintiffs claim. They claim that the Rushes continued to raise new objections, such as the position of a propane tank on the Coen / McDormand property, and refused to ink the final deal.
In June, Coen and McDormand sent an email to the Rushes urging them to sign the final transaction documents they had prepared.
“We have respected the agreement, in every way, over the past year and resolved every problem,” said the e-mail, signed “Joel and Fran”. “We hope to continue a friendly relationship as neighbors for years to come. Our deal has worked for over a year and the sooner we finalize it, the sooner this controversy will be behind us forever. “
The Rushes have kept their objections. On October 28, Coen and McDormand filed a lawsuit before the Marin County Superior Court.
The lawsuit asks the court to impose the agreement or recognize the historic border. If not, the lawsuit seeks a decree granting Coen and McDormand ownership of the green belt.
The couple also asks for the costs of the dispute.
The suit is awarded to Judge James Chou. The first case management conference is set for March 19.