Just Busted Magazine Sued For Sex Offender Listing

Friday, September 17, 2010

The magazine "Just Busted" that prints photos of recent local arrestees has been sued in connection with one listing under sex offenders.

Horace Hatcher is asking $200,000 in damages.

He also asked that a retraction be run for the next six months.

The suit says he was pictured in the Aug. 3 edition of Just Busted under the heading “SEX OFFENDERS NEAR CARVER OUTDOOR POOL."

His attorney, Robin Flores, said he had been taken off the Sex Offender list on July 28. Pamela E. Beck, a TBI Sex Offender Registry official, "notified plaintiff that he was no longer listed on the Sex Offender Registry as required by the Tennessee Sexual Offender and Violent Sexual Offender Registration, Verification and Tracking Act of 2004," it was stated.

The suit says, "A person listed in the Registry may apply to TBI and is entitled for removal from the Registry and no longer registered as a sex offender in Tennessee if such person has not been convicted of any additional sexual offenses or violent sexual offenses during the 10-year period and that such person has substantially complied the Act."

It says, "Plaintiff had actively worked over the past several years to rehabilitate himself including participation in the Eastdale Community Center, worked on three films about fifth graders, one included Plaintiff’s grandson, in their active participation in politics and the importance of youth’s participation in citizenship on the local and national level. This work resulted in a letter from President Obama to plaintiff’s grandson congratulating the grandson on his work.

"Plaintiff had the help and assistance of one state representative, two professors from Chattanooga State College, and two friends (Greg Walton and Robert Johnson) in the production and development of these films.

"The acts and omissions of the defendant directly resulted in plaintiff’s loss of the level of assistance from Walton and Johnson, diminished plaintiff’s standing in the community, and places in jeopardy the success of plaintiff’s film efforts.

"The acts and omissions of the defendant directly led to plaintiff’s mental anguish."

Here is the full lawsuit:

CIRCUIT COURT FOR HAMILTON COUNTY, TENNESSEE

HORACE HATCHER, §
Plaintiff, §
§ No. _____________
-v- §
§
JUST BUSTED, LLC, §
Defendants. §

COMPLAINT

1. Plaintiff seeks redress for damages caused by the defendant under the commons laws of the State of Tennessee for the torts of [1] defamation, [2] invasion of privacy by casting plaintiff in a false light to the public, [3] negligent infliction of emotional distress, [4] intentional infliction of emotional distress, and [5] negligence.
2. At all times relevant to this action, plaintiff is a resident of Hamilton County, Tennessee.
3. At all times relevant to this action, defendant is a limited liability corporation listed with the Tennessee Secretary of State since April 22, 2010 as having a principal address at 4107 Tacoma Avenue, Chattanooga, in Hamilton County, Tennessee 37415.
4. At all times relevant to this action, defendant listed with Tennessee Secretary of State its registered agent as: “Just Busted, LLC,” 4107 Tacoma Avenue, Chattanooga, in Hamilton County, Tennessee 37415.
5. All acts at issue in this Complaint happened in Hamilton County, Tennessee.
6. Defendant publishes a weekly circulation entitled “Just Busted, Look Who’s in Jail,” and sells it in Hamilton County for $1.00.
7. Defendant’s circulations contain photographs of persons purported to have been recently arrested, wanted by authorities, or as registered sex offenders.
8. On August 3, 2010, defendant published in its August 3, 2010 edition (“offending edition,” or “edition”) a photograph of plaintiff in a page that contained the following language in bold print as the heading:
a. “SEX OFFENDERS NEAR CARVER OUTDOOR POOL 600 ORCHARD KNOB STREET.”
9. The edition, on the same page, contained the following language in a combination of lower-case and upper-case print as the footer:
a. “Above are the results from the TN Sex Offender Database search for offenders within 1 mile of CARVER POOL. These people may or may not be child predators, they are all however … REGISTERED SEX OFFENDERS.”
10. At the time of the edition, plaintiff was not a “registered sex offender” with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (“TBI”).
11. On July 28, 2010, Pamela E. Beck (“Beck”), a TBI Sex Offender Registry official, notified plaintiff that he was no longer listed on the Sex Offender Registry (“Registry”) as required by the Tennessee Sexual Offender and Violent Sexual Offender Registration, Verification, and Tracking Act of 2004 (“Act”).
a. Beck notified plaintiff that he substantially complied with the Act, and was entitled to removal from the Registry.
12. Pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-39-207, a person listed in the Registry may apply to TBI and is entitled for removal from the Registry and no longer register as a sex offender in Tennessee if such person has not has not been convicted of any additional sexual offenses or violent sexual offenses during the ten-year period and that such person has substantially complied the Act.
a. The General Assembly of Tennessee enacted Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-39- 207 as a balance to the rights of individuals listed on the Registry from freedom from continued punishment beyond any sentence pursuant to conviction for a “sex offense.”
13. TBI’s Sex Offender Registry website contains the following disclaimers:
“The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) does not guarantee its accuracy or completeness,” and “members of the public are not allowed to use information from the registry to inflict retribution or additional punishment to offenders.”
14. The notices readily available to the defendant from TBI placed defendant on notice that the information was not guaranteed as to its accuracy or completeness, and warned the defendant that the information was not to be used to inflict retribution or additional punishment to offenders.
15. Despite these warnings, defendant published plaintiff as a registered sex offender with a complete disregard of the rights of the plaintiff, and was tantamount to reckless and intentional conduct, and done merely to sensationalize its editions to gain profits.
16. Plaintiff was not a public figure or a public official at any time relevant to this claim.
17. Plaintiff had actively worked over the past several years to rehabilitate himself including participation in the Eastdale Community Center, worked on 3 films about 5th graders, one included Plaintiff’s grandson, in their active participation in politics and the importance of youth’s participation in citizenship on the local and national level. This work resulted in a letter from President Obama to plaintiff’s grandson congratulating the grandson on his work.
18. Plaintiff had the help and assistance of one state representative, two professors from Chattanooga State College, and two friends (Greg Walton and Robert Johnson) in the production and development of these films.
19. The acts and omissions of the defendant directly resulted in plaintiff’s loss of the level of assistance from Walton and Johnson, diminished plaintiff’s standing in the community, and places in jeopardy the success of plaintiff’s film efforts.
20. The acts and omissions of the defendant directly led to plaintiff’s mental anguish.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff seeks the following relief:
a. Actual and punitive damages in the amount of two hundred thousand dollars.
b. Injunctive relief to include a full retraction by the defendant placed in a prominent place in its editions to run for six months without cost to plaintiff.
c. Trial by a jury.
d. Tax costs of the clerk to the defendant.
e. Other relief allowed by law and equity.
Respectfully submitted,

By:_______________________________
ROBIN RUBEN FLORES
TENN. BPR #20751
GA. STATE BAR #200745
Counsel for Plaintiff
4110-A Brainerd Road
Chattanooga, TN 37411
423 / 267-1575 fax 267-2703
robinflores@comcast.net



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