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This Forest Hill couple sued their neighbours for $2.5 million over a house they claim was renovated to look like theirs

Posted: October 6, 2017

Jason and Jodi Chapnik, who live in a multi-million dollar home on Strathearn Rd., filed a lawsuit against their neighbours for remodeling a nearby property on Vesta Dr. to look “strikingly similar” to their house.

Homeowners at a Strathearn Rd. house, left, claim a Vesta Dr. house, right, copied their architect-designed home. Wood panels were mounted to prominent gables and window frames were painted blue at Strathearn Rd. The homeowners say this design was copied by Eric and Barbara Ann Kirshenblatt, who purchased, renovated, and later sold the Vesta Dr. house.  (STEVE RUSSELL/TORONTO STAR)  

A Forest Hill couple took their neighbours to court for copying the look of their multimillion-dollar home.

Jason and Jodi Chapnik, who own the home on Strathearn Rd., near Bathurst and Eglinton Sts., alleged that a house on nearby Vesta Dr. was newly renovated to look “strikingly similar” to theirs — including using the same shade of blue and matching grey stonework.

The Chapniks filed a lawsuit against neighbour Barbara Ann Kirshenblatt, her builder husband and architect brother-in-law for copyright infringement in federal court, as well as the real estate agent who profited from the house’s recent sale and the anonymous contractors who worked on the house. They were seeking $1.5 million in damages, $20,000 in statutory copyright damages, $1 million in punitive damages, and a mandatory injunction on the defendant to change the design of the home.

According to a 2014 statement of claim, the Chapniks say their architect-designed home is “one of the most well-known and admired houses in the Cedarvale and Forest Hill neighbourhoods, in a large part due to its uniqueness.” They claim Kirshenblatt, who is “in the business of . . . flipping houses,” copied their home to increase her property value “while decreasing the value of the Plaintiff’s unique house.”

Raised stonework around the chimney is among the allegedly copied elements from the Strathearn Rd. house, left, at the Vesta Dr. house, right.  (STEVE RUSSELL/TORONTO STAR)  

Kirshenblatt denied copying the look of her neighbours’ home and said the house is actually inspired by Tudor stone cottages, of which multiple photographs were supplied in the statement of defence filed in court.

Further, she said, the features, including the “application of a single colour, such as blue, to windows, doors and stonework, and the application of ‘Tudor’ style stonework to a façade has been common to the trade for centuries, and is not protectable by copyright.”

The allegations were not proven in court. The parties agreed to settle out of court and the terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

“There is no admission of guilt or liability on the part of my clients, and they truly believe that they did nothing wrong,” said the Kirshenblatts’ lawyer, Jeremy Lum-Danson, in an email.