Trial date set in Sullivan incident that destroyed mobile home

J. H. Osborne • Dec 12, 2012 at 8:06 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — A Jan. 21, 2014, trial date has been set in federal court in Greeneville for a lawsuit against Sullivan County, Sheriff Wayne Anderson and sheriff’s employees over an incident that left a home burned.

County Attorney Dan Street said the date was set Wednesday during a scheduling hearing in which he and the plaintiffs’ attorney participated.

The date’s placement more than a year out is a result of criminal cases having priority over civil cases in federal court scheduling, Street said.

The case could get to court sooner if the plaintiffs were to agree to have it heard by a federal court magistrate instead of the federal court judge — an option Street said he brought up during the hearing.

The attorney for the plaintiffs opted to stick with the federal judge, Street said, even with the Jan. 21, 2014 trial date.

Margaret Spradlin and her daughter, Shirley Brewer, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Greeneville on April 16 naming Anderson, 14 of his deputies, Sullivan County and the sheriff’s department as defendants. Spradlin and Brewer are seeking $1 million in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages.

The lawsuit stems from a standoff that took place at their trailer on April 27, 2011, when law enforcement officials converged on their home looking for Junior Spradlin — Margaret Spradlin’s son — who was wanted for murder in Virginia.

Efforts to resolve the lawsuit through mediation were not successful.

Earlier this month Sullivan County offered $85,000 in an attempt to settle the $1.5 million lawsuit.

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