County faces new suit over trimmed trees
A local businesswoman has filed a second lawsuit against Carter County, saying the county has again damaged her property by cutting down trees and other plants.
Linda Kay Whitehead, owner of Carter at Main, filed the action in Carter County Circuit Court on June 25.
It’s the second civil lawsuit filed by Whitehead alleging the county trespassed on the Carter at Main property and caused damage by destroying vegetation on the property. The first suit was filed in May 2011, and is still pending in Circuit Court.
Both lawsuits filed by Whitehead claim trees and other plants were destroyed along the common boundary the Carter at Main property shares with the Carter County Courthouse, which is at 801 E. Elk Ave. Carter at Main is at 829 E. Elk Ave.
The new lawsuit says a second cutting took place in July 2013.
“Despite knowledge by the county that Ms. Whitehead had previously asserted that the county’s intrusion upon her property was unlawful by virtue of the lawsuit filed in this Court, on or about July 19, 2013, Carter County, Tennessee, by and through its agents, did again enter the premises of (Whitehead’s) property and began to cut, clear and destroy the variety of flora inhabiting the boundary lines and the outskirts of (Whitehead’s) property. Again, despite prior action taken by (Whitehead), this tortuous conduct occurred without any prior notice to (Whitehead), even the simple courtesy of a phone call,” says the complaint, filed in Circuit Court.
The lawsuit says once Whitehead learned of the incident, she went to her property and found vegetation had again been damaged.
“The sight of the damage to her property created an overwhelming emotional response. The psychosomatic manifestation of this emotional disturbance led to Ms. Whitehead being transported by ambulance to a local hospital for testing,” the lawsuit claims. “As a direct and proximate result of the Defendant’s wanton, willful and unapologetic conduct, the Plaintiff incurred extensive medical expenses.”
Whitehead’s lawsuit claims the county trespassed on her property without notice or any “lawful authority,” and that the actions by the county “clearly constitute substantial and unreasonable interference with (Whitehead’s) use, benefit and quiet enjoyment of her property.”
The suit also claims the county was negligent by cutting trees and clearing brush from the property boundary without taking “proper precautions” to ensure Whitehead’s property was not damaged.
“Moreover, by virtue of the prior lawsuit, the complete intrusion of the boundary lines, and the repetitious action of the Defendant, (Whitehead) would aver that Defendant’s actions were done with a reckless disregard for (Whitehead’s) rights and with a conscious neglect of duty to (Whitehead) for a callous indifference to the consequences of its actions,” the lawsuit claims.
Whitehead is asking the Circuit Court to bar Carter County from taking any action against her property without her prior approval. She also seeks punitive damages for what the lawsuit calls “the wanton, willful, and malicious conduct” of Carter County.
Whitehead is also seeking the market value of all timber damage as well as compensatory damages for “injuries suffered to her property and to her person.”
As of close of business on Thursday, no response to the lawsuit had been filed by Carter County. Phone calls to County Attorney Keith Bowers were not immediately returned on Thursday.