Posted by: Patricia Salkin | April 10, 2018

Fed. Dist. Court of TN Dismisses Malicious Prosecution Claims Against County for Enforcement of Nuisance Claims involving the Raising of Chickens and Roosters

This post was authored by Matthew Loeser, Esq.

Plaintiff, a resident of Anderson County, Tennessee, raised and bred chickens to “show quality standards.” Steve Page, an official from the Anderson County Public Works Office visited plaintiff’s property after receiving complaints from his neighbors about noise and odor, and plaintiff cleaned up the property and removed several roosters. After the neighbors complained, defendant Yeager, Law Director for Anderson County, Tennessee, threatened legal action against plaintiff, claiming that his activities constituted a “public nuisance.” In response, plaintiff reduced his flock of chickens from approximately seventy to thirty chickens and built a fence. Nevertheless, at an Anderson County Commission public session, plaintiff’s neighbors and defendant Yeager asserted that plaintiff’s activities constituted a “public nuisance” and needed to be referred to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (“TDEC”).  Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment in the Chancery Court for Anderson County based on defendant Yeager’s failure to identify evidence in support of the lawsuit’s allegations, which was granted. Plaintiff then commenced this action asserting a violation of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and a malicious prosecution claim under Tennessee state law.

The court first noted that defendants did not initiate a criminal prosecution but instead were merely involved in a civil proceeding. Accordingly, plaintiff failed to satisfy the federal requirements for pleading a malicious prosecution claim. Plaintiff next contended that defendants’ civil lawsuit interfered with plaintiff’s use of his property and violated his constitutional rights generally, in violation of U.S.C. § 1983; however, plaintiff failed to state any facts in his complaint to support a general § 1983 claim. Accordingly, the court granted defendant’s motion to dismiss with respect to the § 1983 claim. Furthermore, the court held that because the underlying suit was resolved on procedural grounds, it was not resolved in a manner favorable to plaintiff, so plaintiff failed to state a claim for malicious prosecution upon which relief can be granted.

Haire v Anderson County, 2018 WL 1475606 (ED TN 3/26/2018)

 


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