A California couple is currently in the midst of a legal battle over their autistic son, whom neighbors blame for lowering the value of their Silicon Valley homes.
A lawsuit filed by the neighbors of Vidyut Gopal and Parul Agrawal, who’ve lived in their Sunnyvale home for seven years, claims the behavior of the couple’s 11-year-old autistic son has created a “chilling effect on the otherwise ‘hot’ local real estate market,” according to the San Jose Mercury News.
Two couples are plaintiffs in the suit. A court filing, which identifies the couple’s child as “the nuisance,” alleges that “people feel constrained in the marketability of their homes” because of unresolved issues with the boy.
“We went out of our way to be understanding and kind to him.”
After the neighbors complained about the child’s menacing behavior—sitting on a cat and striking a baby, among other incidents, according to the lawsuit—his parents started giving him medication, placed him special classes, and hired a caregiver. But the neighbors moved forward with a lawsuit.
In October, a Santa Clara County judge issued a preliminary injunction against the couple to ensure the 11-year-old doesn’t assault the neighbors or their property, the Mercury News reports.
The case has outraged other parents of children with autism, who fear it may lead to other similar claims being filed. However, some of the neighbors, who are not named in the suit, say the public shouldn’t be too quick to judge the plaintiffs.
“We went out of our way to be understanding and kind to him,” said Sue Alford, a 61-year-old nurse who lives in the neighborhood. Alford said the residents only want the street to be a “safe place for other children,” and that the parents “didn’t see our point of view.”
Next Tuesday, a judge is scheduled to hear arguments next Tuesday about whether the boy’s medical and school records should be accessible to the plaintiffs.
“This has been pretty devastating for us, but we are doing our best to cope with it,” Gopal, Silicon Valley engineer, told the Mercury News. The couple added that they hope the case will “raise awareness about Autism and educate the public” about the challenges involved with raising an autistic child.