You Be The Judge - LawCall

You Be The Judge


You live in a nice neighborhood, the yards are well-kept, children play on trampolines and swing sets in their back yards. You’ve worked really hard to find just the right swing set for your daughters; it wasn’t easy, because they wanted a purple set. That’s where the trouble begins.

For one Missouri family, it has been a nightmare. Marla and Lee Stout’s little girls, aged five and eight, were very excited about their new swings, slide and tree house. But some fussy neighbors didn’t like the color and the homeowner’s association demanded the entire thing be removed.

According to Mrs. Stout, there is nothing in the association’s bylaws about the color of playground equipment. She says they considered the color to be harmonious with nature, especially in the fall when the leaves change colors.

The HOA disagreed, and the couple received a notice that they were to be fined for not having the swing set color pre-approved. The Stouts appealed the fine and won, but that didn’t stop the HOA from sending more threatening letters. One pledged that a lawsuit could cost the family ‘greater than any principle you are trying to prove.

Many of the Stout’s neighbors stood beside them against the HOA. One neighbor said his children would love a purple swing set. But as is often the case, it was the squeaky wheel that got the grease. The HOA basically refused to work with the Stouts and now there is a lawsuit.

What do you think? Should a homeowner’s association be allowed to dictate the color of your child’s swing set or play house?


The Raintree Homeowner’s Association filed the lawsuit and even threatened the couple with jail time if they didn’t take down the play house. The judge dismissed the case, and the purple swing set and tree house will remain in their backyard for the Stout’s daughters to enjoy for years to come.

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