Sherry Freeland pickets Choice Homes.
A complaint is the reason behind a Texas builder suing one of its homeowners.
A sparring match between Choice Homes and a dissatisfied owner is now a matter of freedom of speech.
"We didn't make this situation and they haven't responded," said Sherry Freeland, the homeowner who made the complaint. "They haven't made one offer to us, any kind of a resolution. And now they're trying to take away our freedom of speech."
What's getting under Choice Homes' skin is a campaign started by Sherry Freeland and her husband Dan over a drainage problem at their home.
The drainage sits at the bottom of a hill in their development at Fox Run in Midlothian and when a heavy rain hit the area a few months ago, a torrent of water washed into their yard and up to their house. Although no damage was done to the home, they feared that because the way Choice Homes had graded their yard, their house would be in danger of flooding.
They complained to Choice and they said they received no response. They wrote a letter to the City of Midlothian, which in turn wrote Choice impelling the builder to take action. After two tries, Choice built a protective berm on the edge of their yard.
But the Freeland's weren't happy. They picketed model homes, spoke out at public meetings and started a website outlining their problems.
Now Choice Homes is suing them for libel, slander, breach of contract and business disparagement. The suit alleges, in essence, that the Freeland's have gone too far. Choice says it's been unable to resolve the situation with the couple.
"We feel like we've reached an impasse," said Chief Operating Officer Dan Couture. "We feel like we've had enough. We want to work with our consumers. We want to try to resolve issues, but when it gets to a point where our reputation is in a bad light you have to protect it."
Choice doesn't outline what amount of damages it wants in its lawsuit. The Freelands, on the other hand, want the builder to buy their house back for $238,000. Since the list price for the home before improvements was $160,000, Choice says that amounts to extortion.
Meanwhile, neighbors have expressed concern over their property values. They say all this attention is eroding the value of their homes, so they're putting up signs saying "We Love Our Choice Home" across the street from the Freelands.
Freeland said she welcomes their right to express their freedom of speech.