In perhaps one of the most colorful and laughter-filled trials a Colorado court room has ever seen, attorneys spent three days last week arguing before a jury as to whether Carol Burdick was wrongfully evicted for her Peeps and other Easter decorations.
Burdick, 60, requested the jury trial after claiming she was kicked out of her apartment last spring for refusing to take down a set of decorations from her door and hallway, including cardboard cutouts, plastic grass and a pyramid of Peeps marshmallow chicks.
Burdick is being sued by a Denver-based real estate investment trust that owns the apartments. The company claims that Burdick was evicted because she refused to pay rent — not because of the Peeps — and it’s seeking $2,300 in unpaid rent as well as attorneys’ fees that could top tens of thousands of dollars. Burdick has counter-sued, claiming the landlord breached its contract with her and acted with negligence.
Those sugar bunnies, or, more accurately, sugar chicks, took center stage Tuesday, as one of the first pieces of evidence introduced to the jury was a box of traditional yellow Peeps. The central question in the case is whether Burdick violated the conditions of her lease by refusing to remove the Peeps and other decorations, or if the landlord/trust breached the lease and unfairly began the eviction process.
After losing the case, Burdick thanked the judge and jury for their work, and "Peeps freaks all over the world" for their support . Burdick handed out a bag full of colorful Peeps marshmallow candies to friends and followers after the three-day trial came to an end. She said some of the Peeps were given to her as a gift from comedian Stephen Colbert, who has followed the case on Comedy Central.
The jury of six Boulder County residents decided last Thursday that Burdick was not wrongfully evicted from her apartment for refusing to remove a pyramid of Peeps and other decorations from her doorway several weeks after Easter 2009.
After deliberating for nearly five hours, the jury decided that the trust that owns the apartments lived up to its contractual obligations, while Burdick was wrong to stop paying her rent after being told to remove her decor. The jury awarded the trust $1,132.66, half of what the company was seeking in unpaid rent.
One juror explained after the trial that the group decided to take the nearly $2,300 that the landlord was seeking in unpaid rent and "split it down the middle." She said that, despite the occasional humor in the courtroom during the testimony of a self-described expert Peeps witness, the jury took the case seriously.