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Defendant in Hawkins Humane Society lawsuit accused of making death threats against plaintiff

Jeff Bobo • Oct 29, 2014 at 7:21 AM

ROGERSVILLE — A Rogersville man who was named as a defendant in a $800,000 slander and libel lawsuit filed by the Hawkins County Humane Society and three members is now being investigated for allegedly threatening to kill one of the plaintiffs.

Eight co-defendants were named in the lawsuit, which was filed June 17 in Hawkins County Criminal Court by the Hawkins County Humane Society, HCHS Board of Directors Chairman Eddie McNally, former board member Danny Alvis and shelter assistant manager Sandy Behnke.

Among the eight defendants listed in the lawsuit are Kim Alley and his wife, Dena Alley.

On Friday, Dennis Alvis, the brother of Danny Alvis, reported to the Hawkins County Sheriff's Office that Kim Alley had verbally threatened to kill Danny Alvis in Dennis Alvis' presence two days earlier.

Dennis Alvis told HCSO Deputy Gary Lawson that he was in the Liberty Market on Main Street in Rogersville on Oct. 22 between 11:30 a.m. and noon when Kim Alley approached him.

"Dennis reported that Kim told him that he was going to kill his brother Danny," Lawson stated in his report. "Dennis told officers that Kim stated he was going to kill Danny two different times during the conversation. Dennis stated that he (Alley) did not say how or when he was going to kill Danny."

Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson said the allegations have been forwarded to the Rogersville attorney general's office, and the attorney general will determine how to proceed with any potential prosecution.

Each of the three plaintiffs, as well as the humane society as an entity, is seeking $100,000 in compensatory damages and $100,000 in punitive damages, for a total of $800,000.

Aside from Kim and Dena Alley, other defendants listed in the libel/slander lawsuit include Debra Lewellen, Hannah Speaks, Roni Vleminckx, Stephanie Daniels, Bonnie Shaw and Sue Pierce.

Late last year and earlier this year, the eight co-defendants were involved in a very public attempt to remove McNally and Alvis from the HCHS board of directors and take over the shelter.

The lawsuit alleges that the defendants created and/or published comments on Facebook accusing the plaintiffs of animal abuse, animal neglect, inaccurate record keeping and misuse of HCHS funds.

The lawsuit alleges that those statements were false and intended "actual malice" — with knowledge that the statements were false with reckless disregard for the truth — for the purpose of damaging the plaintiffs' reputations and removing them from their positions.

The lawsuit further alleges that the defendants made false accusations to the Hawkins County Sheriff's Office that the plaintiffs were abusing and neglecting animals, keeping inaccurate record and misusing funds.

Those allegations were also publicized in local newspaper and TV news reports, resulting in public criticism and humiliation, according to the lawsuit.

Shaw is also accused of malicious prosecution for filing a lawsuit against McNally and Alvis in Hawkins County Sessions Court alleging mismanagement of the Human Society.

Shaw's lawsuit "was initiated solely to harass, publicly humiliate, and damage the professional and personal reputations of Eddie McNally and Danny Alvis. Bonnie Shaw's allegations against the plaintiffs were unfounded, frivolous, and without probable cause" — according to the libel/slander lawsuit.

Shaw's lawsuit was quickly dismissed by the court in favor of McNally and Alvis.

Each of the eight defendants in the lawsuit has filed responses denying the substantial allegations against them. There is currently no court date scheduled to hear the lawsuit.

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