A not-so-neighborly Italian saga that extends from the porcelain depths of our most basic needs to the altar of European justice.
An Italian couple has won a two-decade-long court battle that invoked an international treaty signed after World War II in order to prove the acceptable volume of a toilet flush.
The ordeal started as a typical neighborhood quarrel, yet spanned nearly two decades and eventually made its way up to Italy's Highest Court this week, Rome daily La Repubblica reports.
It all began in 2003, when four brothers built a new toilet in their apartment located in the La Spezia province of northwest Italy. The husband and wife living next door soon complained that the toilet was used frequently during the night, and the flush was so loud it woke them up each time.
A matter of three decibels
The couple took their case to court, demanding a resolution of the noise problem and the payment of damages; but the trial judge rejected their case.
The couple decided to take their case to the appeals court of Genoa, triggering an inspection of the two flats that ultimately found in their favor. Investigators reported that they'd discovered "a significant excess of three decibels over the standards required by legislation." Translation: that flush was too damn loud.
The four brothers were required to change the WC flush location in the flat, and to pay 500 euros per year, beginning from the toilet's installation in 2003.
European Convention on Human Rights
The four brothers ultimately decided to bring “the flush case” to the Court of Cassation, the highest court of appeal in Italy.
But finally the high court ruled in favor of the couple, considering the impact the flush had on their quality of life as an infringement of a right "to respect one's own private and family life," constitutionally guaranteed protected by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
Wash your hands. Turn out the lights. After 19 years of battle, the fate of the four brothers was sealed and the war of the flush silenced forever.