Mayor Littlefield Set To Testify In United Pet Supply Lawsuit Case

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mayor Ron Littlefield is listed among the witnesses in a trial set to start in Federal Court on Feb. 11 in which the parent company of The Pet Shop is suing the city and the McKamey Animal Center for $10 million.

Also set to testify are some of the mayor's top staff members, including Dan Johnson, Marie Chinery and Richard Beeland. City Councilman Jack Benson is also on the city's witness list.

The 29-page complaint by United Pet Care says McKamey illegally took the permit for its store at Hamilton Place Mall and also illegally confiscated most of the animals at the store. It says McKamey was acting with ulterior motives when it took 82 animals and the company business records in a raid June 15, 2010. The permit was eventually returned to the store along with most of the animals.

City Judge Sherry Paty stepped down from the case, saying Mayor Littlefield had improperly interfered. An outside judge later dismissed the case, citing "double jeopardy."

City Judges Paty and Russell Bean say relations with Mayor Littlefield deteriorated after that flap.

The suit says McKamey "prosecuted the charges against the Pet Shop with an ulterior motive and for an improper purpose: to damage and destroy Plaintiff's lawful business, based on an ideological and political antipathy to pet stores, and to unlawfully extract the payment of money and surrender of property from the Pet Shop."

It says defendants "conducted an unreasonable search and seizure of the
Pet Shop in violation of the Fourth Amendment" and says the City Code as written and as applied to the Pet Shop "conflicts with, infringes on, and disregards rights specifically granted by state law, and the accompanying regulatory scheme, governing the licensing of commercial pet dealers in the state of Tennessee."

The suit says the defendants "unlawfully deprived the Pet Shop of its basic right to procedural due process in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and the Tennessee Constitution. The Pet Shop was damaged as a result of defendants' actions."

It says a hearing should have been conducted prior to the raid.

The suit says a German Shepherd taken by McKamey was not returned despite a request by The Pet Shop veterinarian and it died.

It says in early October, 2010, the Pet Shop retrieved the remainder of its animals from McKamey, "which were no longer puppies. They could not be sold, were underweight, and in various states of poor health, having been retained at defendant McKamey's facility for nearly four months. After subsequent veterinary treatment and care by the Pet Shop's veterinarian, the Pet Shop adopted out its dogs without charge."

The suit says the raid was carried out early in the morning prior to the time The Pet Shop cleaned its facility for the day.

The suit was filed by Chattanooga attorneys Andrew Pippenger and Benjamin Reese.

Defendants also include McKamey Director Karen Walsh and employees Marvin Nicholson and Paula Hurn.

The suit asks $5 million compensatory damages and $5 million punitive damages.

Judge Curtis Collier is to preside over the trial.



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