NASHVILLE – A $1.15 million lawsuit against the city of Nashville has been refiled in federal court after having been dismissed a year ago.
The suit claims that actions taken by the city fire department during the fighting of a fire on Main St. in Nashville in 2008 which resulted in the demolition of a building owned by the plaintiffs in the case, Carl and Justin Johnson, “constituted a ‘seizure’ of their property”, and thus violated their Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, and names not only the city, but also Nashville fire marshal Jerry Harwell, former Mayor Mike Reese, current and former “city counsel members” Freddy Brown, Matt Smith, Jackie Harwell, Nick Davis, Monica Clark, Vivian Wright, Jimmie Lou Kirkpatrick, Kay Gathright, James Parker, Carol Mitchell, Andy Anderson and Mike Milum, as well as current mayor Billy Ray Jones, who had no position with the city at the time of the incident referenced in the suit, and TOMCO, Inc. as a contractor of the city.
The suit alleges that the structure owned by the two was destroyed after the fire was extinguished and that the building was structurally sound when Harwell, as fire marshall, ordered it demolished. They seek $224,985, which they say is the replacement cost of the building, as well as an additional $928,320 which they claim was the “fair market value” of the resale shop’s inventory, in addition to court costs and attorney’s fees. A report filed with the Arkansas State Police characterized such controlled demolitions of structures involved in disasters as “standard safety procedure.”
The Johnsons filed a motion to voluntarily dismiss the case without prejudice on April 2 of last year in the Western District of Arkansas and re-filed on March 30 of this year, according to court records. This will make the second time the case has been dismissed and re-filed, each time with different attorneys representing the plaintiffs. Originally the case was filed by Little Rock attorney Morgan E. Welch, then by Hot Springs lawyer Ralph C. Ohm. The Johnson’s current representation is by Sammie Strange and Melissa Grisham of the Hosto & Buchan firm of Little Rock, according to the most recent filing. City council members reached for reaction had no comment, as did former mayor Mike Reese.