Neighbors feud over driveway
By LEONORA LAPETER
Published March 13, 2007
The property line dispute. It can cause completely normal people to act irrationally, spawning lawsuits, property damage, even fist fights.
Which brings us to the LaBrants and the Loiselles, two warring families who live on dead-end Josephine Road in Largo.
David Loiselle, 45, is a podiatrist with a rosy tan and a wife who is battling cancer. Robert LaBrant, 35, is a P.E. coach at a Christian school with four children under the age of 10. Neither has a criminal record.
To date, however, their dispute has produced three civil lawsuits, a physical altercation, a criminal indictment, a court hearing over a videotape and a call to police alleging that a member of one family ran someone from the other family off a driveway.
It has pushed the P.E. coach's 62-year-old father, a retired assistant principal, to start taking Xanax. And the podiatrist's wife to lament, between chemotherapy sessions, that she wishes it would all be over soon.
What separates these two families is a common drive that runs past the LaBrant home to the Loiselle home. Each family claims use of the drive.
The drama is laid out in court and police records in excruciating detail. To date, four lawyers are working on it.
The LaBrants moved in during 2005. The drive in question is part of the Loiselle property. So Dr. Loiselle asked them to sign a document agreeing to hold him harmless if something happened, said Loiselle's lawyer, Joseph M. Ciarciaglino.
The LaBrants refused, Ciarciaglino says.
The family has another driveway behind their house, but the disputed drive leads to a circular one in front of their home and had been used for years by previous occupants of the house.
Then last November the Loiselles put up a chest-high wood fence that cut off the LaBrants from using the drive in question.
Shortly after the wood fence went up, the Loiselles say, the LaBrants rammed it with a car - twice.
The LaBrants, meanwhile, accused the Loiselles of speeding down the drive, shining headlights into the LaBrant children's bedrooms late at night. They say they heard the Loiselles cursing and yelling at family members.
On Dec. 19, the Loiselles say, the LaBrants removed part of the fence in front of the circular drive. And so on that day, Dr. Loiselle crossed the driveway and confronted the LaBrants in their yard.
Holding her 1-year-old on her hip, Tami LaBrant, 34, videotaped what happened next. A police officer viewed the tape and wrote up what happened in a report:
Dr. Loiselle approached Robert LaBrant and his father, Kenneth, a retired assistant principal, and started yelling at them. Then Dr. Loiselle put his hands around the senior LaBrant's neck.
Robert LaBrant pulled Dr. Loiselle off his father and the two men tussled. At one point, the podiatrist turned around and "he threw his shoe at me and I ducked and it hit my truck window," Robert LaBrant later told police.
Dr. Loiselle left but came back with something in his hand. The senior LaBrant told police he feared Dr. Loiselle might have a gun or a Taser, which Dr. Loiselle denied.
Dr. Loiselle told police he didn't remember much of what happened during the altercation.
Largo police arrested Dr. Loiselle on two counts of misdemeanor battery. The charges carry up to a year in the county jail.
Shortly after, Robert LaBrant complained to police that he was driving down the drive when he encountered the Loiselle car and was forced off the drive, according to a Largo incident report. Police did not prosecute because no crime was committed: no words were exchanged and no one was injured.
Recently, Dr. Loiselle's lawyer, Ciarciaglino, appeared in court - with Loiselle at his side - trying to get a copy of the video Tami LaBrant shot.
Ciarciaglino did not say much about the criminal charges, except that he has a witness who contradicts the LaBrants.
Kenneth LaBrant sat in the courtroom with his son and daughter-in-law and his lawyer, Stephen Cole. He worries about his family and can't believe it's all gotten so out of hand.
"We've never been through anything like this before," he whispered. "This is embarrassing."