County Sued Over Home Meth Warnings

Franklin County and the Citizens Community Bank in Tennessee are being sued for sending warning letters and posting signs about a home where a methamphetamine lab was found, the Tullahoma News reported May 17.

According to the lawsuit, drug investigators with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department filed a notice with the Register of Deeds Office stating that the house had been used as a meth lab. “This letter serves as a warning and notification that although the clandestine drug laboratory was seized and processed by law enforcement from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and disposed of by licensed hazardous waste contractors, there may be hazardous substance or waste products at or on our property,” the notice said.

The lawsuit, filed in Franklin County Circuit Court on behalf of Felecia Sells, who owns the property, claims that “prior to the filing of the notices in the Register of Deeds Office, no testing was performed to indicate the level of contamination and the extent to which any potential health hazard may be posed by the alleged seizures.”

Jere Hood, the attorney for Sells, said the notices have resulted in the property being “uninsurable, and therefore cannot be utilized for occupancy. It has no collateral market value since banks will not loan money on the property.”

Hood said the county lacks the statutory authority to file such notices with the Register of Deed Office or post them on property.

The lawsuit seeks $45,000 for “damages for the negligence and wrongful taking and/or inverse condemnation of plaintiff’s property and demunition of its value and its restricted usage without due process or other lawful statutory authority.”

The lawsuit also seeks reimbursement for costs of attorney fees and appraisal, engineering, and other fees incurred because of the actions of the county.