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Blessings Neighbors Ben Burris, Matt Wait Sue Each Other in Property Dispute

3 min read

Fayetteville dentist Ben Burris is going back to court.

Burris, who owns the Arkansas Dentistry & Braces chain in Arkansas, filed a $10,000 lawsuit claiming negligence by his neighbor.

The neighbor, former University of Arkansas punter Matt Wait, filed a counter-claim against Burris.

Burris, you’ll recall, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Little Rock in May 2014 against the Arkansas Board of Dental Examiners to challenge the Arkansas Dental Practice Act. Burris, at the time a licensed dentist and orthodontist, was prohibited by the act from providing a teeth-cleaning service.

Burris dropped his lawsuit after 18 months and relinquished his orthodontist license, which allowed him to offer dental services while keeping the orthodontics services.

Burris’ legal dispute with Wait has nothing to do with dental care. Burris and Wait are neighbors on Jean Lane, a posh neighborhood next to John Tyson’s Blessings Golf Club.

Burris, represented by attorney Jeremy Hutchinson, claimed in a complaint filed in June that Wait “negligently and unreasonably altered his property” and that caused damage to Burris’ property.

Burris said Wait dug up his yard, leaving a “sizable drop off” from Burris’ driveway to Wait’s lawn; Burris said the digging caused pipes to be moved and his property was “in a state of disarray.”

The dug-up ground has caused a drainage problem and threatens Burris’ driveway. Burris is asking for damages and attorney fees.

Wait, through his attorney J. Timothy Smith, filed a counter-claim against Burris on June 30. Wait claimed he never dug up any ground on Burris’ property, and all the work was preapproved by the subdivision’s Property Owners Association.

Burris bought his 4,600-SF home for $900,000 in October 2014, while Wait paid $115,000 for the adjacent lot in June 2014. Wait took out a construction mortgage of $542,400 from First Western Bank of Rogers to build his 4,120-SF home in 2015.

Wait claims in his complaint that when construction began at his home site, there was a large “hump” of dirt that Wait assumed was left over from when Burris’ home was originally built. Burris’ home was built in 2009 and had two previous owners.

Wait said he removed the dirt at his own expense, told Burris what was going on and then realized that water lines for Burris’ home had been laid on Wait’s property. Burris paid for the lines to be rerouted, but he did not pay for the damage done to Wait’s property during the work, Wait said.

Wait said Burris had a survey done and it was determined that Burris’ fence was on Wait’s property. Burris had the fence moved but did not pay for the damages done to Wait’s yard during that work, leaving his yard in “disarray.”

While finishing the preparation and dirt removal for his yard, Wait said he realized that Burris’ gutters were directed at Wait’s yard, and the resulting run-off caused considerable damage. Burris fixed the gutters but has not paid for the damages caused by the “trespass.”

Wait said he took a bid from a landscaper to replace ground damaged on Burris’ property by the plumbing work and gave the figure to Burris in an attempt to “be helpful.” Burris said he would not pay for Wait’s yard.

Wait said in the complaint that past and future damages on Burris’ property were not Wait’s fault but “rather due to [Burris’] own failure to properly protect his property.” Wait asked for the cost to repair the damages caused to his property.

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