An Orange County Superior Court judge held Wednesday that PIMCO founder Bill Gross and his girlfriend harassed their Laguna Beach neighbors earlier this year, playing the “Gilligan’s Island” theme song on a loop until they agreed to drop a code enforcement complaint.
Following a seven-week trial, Judge Kimberly Knill ruled in favor of a restraining order request by Mark Towfiq and Carol Nakahara, who own a home next to the ocean cliffside home Gross and former professional tennis player Amy Schwartz use as their weekend getaway.
“The court finds that music that can be heard through half-inch, double-paned windows constitutes harassment,” Knill said. “A reasonable person would suffer emotional distress from being on the receiving end of this music repeatedly.”
The civil harassment case has attracted international headlines about Laguna Beach over the decisions of the billionaire “bond king” to harass his next-door neighbors to the point they were willing to engage him in costly litigation. This feud apparently started after Gross and Schwartz erected a glass art installation near their property line without seeking necessary permits or design review.
“We are pleased that Judge Knill found Mr. Gross and Ms. Schwartz relentlessly harassed our clients with music constantly blasted at their home as retaliation for filing a complaint about Gross’s illegal art installation, and expressly disbelieved Gross and Schwartz’s false and defamatory statements to the contrary,’” Towfiq’s attorney Chase Scolnick said in a prepared statement. “No amount of money or PR spin can hide the truth here. Our clients have been living a nightmare. Everyone can empathize with having a horrible neighbor, and we look forward to the next stage.”
Knill’s order bars Gross and Schwartz from contacting their harassed neighbors indirectly or directly, playing any music when no one is in their backyard or pool area, and must stay five yards away from Towfiq and Nakaraha when not entering, leaving, or while both are on their Laguna Beach properties.
Following Wednesday’s ruling, Gross issued a statement, continuing his denial that he and Schwartz ever played loud music.
“My life partner Amy Schwartz and I are disappointed in the outcome, and will of course abide by the terms of the court’s decision,” Gross said. “But to be clear, this case never should have gotten to this point. I have offered to settle this case many times in a way that would benefit everyone in the community except the lawyers, but was always rebuffed.”