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Counteroffer made in suit against county

J. H. Osborne • Jan 17, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Sullivan County has received a counteroffer of $225,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by two women over a fire that burned their home.

That comes after the Sullivan County Commission’s Executive Committee offered $85,000 to settle the lawsuit last month.

Margaret Spradlin and her daughter, Shirley Brewer, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Greeneville on April 16, 2012, naming Sheriff Wayne 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 an incident 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.

A Jan. 21, 2014, trial date is set for the case in federal court in Greeneville.

County Attorney Dan Street received the offer to settle for $225,000 from Spradlin’s and Brewer’s lawyer — Ursula Bailey of Knoxville — last week.

Street said he’s passed the information to the county’s risk management officer, the adjuster for the county’s insurance provider, and the sheriff’s department.

The county’s insurance policy for such matters carries a $100,000 deductible, Street said.

That means the insurance company will foot the bill for any payout over $100,000.

The Executive Committee has voted to offer to settle for $85,000 — so the $100,000 the county would have to pay out to settle for a higher amount is $15,000 more.

For any settlement to be reached prior to trial, the insurance adjuster would first have to agree to any settlement amount — and the County Commission’s Executive Committee would also have to agree.

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