Partner Mark Thomsen of Gingras, Thomsen & Wachs has filed a lawsuit for clients Carlos and Laura Amaya against their neighbors, James and Cindy Coots. The lawsuit seeks legal recourse and compensation for repeated incidences of vicious acts from 2019-2022 that included trespassing, nuisance, infliction of emotional distress, racial slurs, and threats of gun violence and physical harm.
The Amaya family is backed by Forward Latino, a national nonprofit organization based in Milwaukee. Attorney Thomsen serves as Forward Latino’s civil rights legal advisor and was brought onto the case by Darryl Morin, the organization’s president and chairman of the board.
“The Amaya family has lived with hateful neighbors, and it cannot be tolerated,” Thomsen said. “You should be able to live any place in Racine County free of hate, and particularly free of racial hatred. We look forward to taking the Amayas’ case to the court.”
Tensions between the Amayas and the Cootses began in May 2019 after the Cootses moved in next door, and installed cameras and bright lights directly facing the Amayas’ home. Despite repeated requests for their removal, the Cootses refused.
The situation continued to escalate for several years and involved multiple derogatory remarks towards the Amayas, a pattern of false accusations to the police about the family and escalating threats toward them.
James Coots threatened to kill not only Carlos, but also the Amayas’ children and dog. Cindy Coots also confronted the Amayas with a loaded handgun, pointing it at the family.
The Amayas seek relief from the court to address the ongoing harassment, physical threats, property violations and emotional distress inflicted by the Cootses. Their goal is to restore their right to live peacefully in their home without interference, as they did in the five years before the Cootses moved in next door.
“As a personal injury lawyer and trial lawyer, we have to step up and help protect people. This case provides a real opportunity in Racine County to send the message that everybody has the right to live here and be safe in their home regardless of their race,” Thomsen said.
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