Two Hamilton County property owners who said they have worked to preserve the historical significance of the former Joe Engel estate have filed a lawsuit against Pratt Land & Development Company and James Wright Construction. The suit charges"illegally trespassing onto their property, damaging real property, destroying large growth trees, damaging their driveway, and taking historical pieces of artwork which included decorative baseballs formerly owned by Joe Engel, the long-time owner of the Chattanooga Lookouts and the visionary of the Historic Engel Stadium."
Plaintiffs, Phillip and Emily Goldberg, purchased the Historic Engel Property in 2017. They said the eight-acre property located at 660 Julian Road "has been a historical piece of the East Brainerd community since the 1930’s and included Engel concrete baseballs which Joe Engel had commissioned as decorative artwork to show the significance of the property and reflect his love of baseball."
Attorney Bryan Hoss said, "On the morning of July 30, 2019, the plaintiffs claim that Pratt and Wright employees illegally trespassed onto their property driving heavy excavation equipment across the property, damaging landmark architecture, structure, and agriculture. During the trespass, Pratt and Wright employees knocked down a no trespassing sign, demolished a trove of old growth trees, and dumped construction materials using the trespassed property as a dumping ground and parking lot.
“Imagine coming to your property where you were going to build your dream house and finding your large shade trees, not just knocked down, but totally gone. Stolen. Imagine finding your driveway in bits and pieces. And your beloved Engel concrete baseballs stolen?”
The lawsuit alleges that Pratt Development was told in the months prior of the importance of the property’s integrity. “My clients spent months telling Pratt and his employees about their property, their love for it, and the historical significance of the property including the landmark baseballs. And in one fail swoop, the developers destroyed it,” said attorney Hoss.
The lawsuit alleges during the evening of July 30, 2019, James Pratt of Pratt Development was alerted of the damage. Attorney Hoss said, "This did not stop the developers from continuing their destruction. The next day, one of the parked excavation machines was moved over the plaintiff’s property which caused additional damage. The Plaintiffs found that the developers had flipped over and broken a historical stone fountain as well as the Plaintiff’s historical decorative baseballs were now missing.
"The defendant(s) had to offer their employees a cash reward for the return of the Engel baseballs.”
“A silt fence separated the two properties in question”, stated attorney Hoss, “Any reasonable developer would have seen the silt fence sitting about 100 yards away, and would have told their employees where the property line was located. The developers in this case only missed it by the length of a football field.”
Bryan Hoss is a partner in the Chattanooga-based law firm Davis and Hoss.
The suit was filed in Circuit Court.