Cloudflare CEO sues over free-roaming fidos at his ski resort paradise

Who let the dogs out?

When regular people have disputes with neighbors, the more reasonable party will grit their teeth, bite their tongue, and try to avoid conflict as much as possible. When billionaires have disputes with millionaire neighbors, they'll see you in court.

Such is the case with Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince, who has had it with his neighbors' adorable Bernese Mountain dogs, Sasha and Mocha.

Under a shell company, Pesky Porcupine LLC, Prince is suing [PDF] owners Eric and Susan Hermann, alleging that the dogs "have aggressively approached, chased, and harassed the residents and guests of the Plaintiff's Property."

It's not like the Hermanns are opening the Princes' back gate and letting Sasha and Mocha fertilize the lawn, though. The Princes own a large stretch of property overlooking the Park City ski resort in Utah subject to a trail easement, meaning that the great unwashed can use the private property for recreational purposes – in this instance, millionaires walking their dogs over it.

Prince takes issue with the dogs and their owners' behavior, claiming it falls "outside the scope of the permissive use of the Trail Easement." This apparently includes loud barks and the 100-pound pooches relieving themselves on the grounds. The lawsuit argues that the terms of the trail easement do not permit dogs on the property, let alone unleashed.

The Hermanns, for their part, deny the claims, particularly appearing to object to the suggestion that they are "senior and frail" in their late 60s. Also, "to the best of our knowledge, the dogs have had no interaction with the Princes," Eric told the Wall Street Journal.

What business America's preeminent financial newspaper has covering this hyperlocal dispute, we don't know. "Cloudflare," we suppose.

As for fouling, Eric said: "If such a thing might ever occur, we would of course pick up the dog poo." For number ones, though, "to the best of my knowledge dog pee is not covered by any regulation in Park City."

But there's more to the case than meets the eye, and it's an issue common to neighborly falling-outs – planning.

Prince is gunning for an 11,300 square foot "L-shaped dream home." Residents objected, saying it exceeds codes for a maximum footprint and height, though the Princes insist that much of the living space will be below ground.

Among those NIMBYs are, of course, the Hermanns. "It will loom over Old Town, glow at night, and reflect the morning sun onto the rest of Old Town," they wrote in feedback.

According to the couple, Prince approached them about buying land they owned next to his property to ensure "no one ever built on it," which was declined. The dogs also allegedly behaved aggressively during that visit.

After the house plan was approved with conditions, neighbors filed appeals, the Hermanns citing concerns over the impact on their undeveloped plot. The appeals are due to be heard on April 30. In the meantime, Prince filed the dog suit on March 18, and another on April 5 about an old retaining wall on the Hermanns' property that may infringe on land he might build on if his plan falls through.

The Hermanns told the paper they believe the lawsuits are "retaliation" for Prince not getting what he wants served on a silver platter.

Meanwhile, the dogs have become a meme among locals, with stickers saying "Free Sasha & Mocha" appearing around town, including at the end of Prince's driveway. The situation was also satirized at a musical fundraiser for the town's Egyptian Theatre venue, where the Princes were in attendance, merrily taking part in the ribbing.

According to the WSJ: "Afterward, they ran into the Hermanns, who were mingling on the street outside with Sasha and Mocha. Tatiana Prince [Matthew's wife] blew a kiss toward the dogs."

Passive aggressive much? ®

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