DA abandons Village Inn public nuisance lawsuit

·2 min read

Aug. 4—District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway told the Crossville City Council Tuesday his office had been gathering evidence to bring a public nuisance lawsuit against the Village Inn.

"I can tell you that the ball was rolling for my considerations of filing a nuisance action and that is now not being considered by me because of the events of last week," Dunaway said.

Dunaway described the Village Inn as a "problematic property" with frequent police calls.

"The Village Inn has been on the radar of mine and the police department for some time," Dunaway said. "We have lots of problems, lots of police calls. I've been there personally recently with overdose deaths."

According to data from Cumberland County E-911, the Crossville Police Department was called to the Village Inn 192 times from Aug. 1, 2021-Aug. 1, 2022.

During that same period, EMS was dispatched to the complex 34 times. There were 23 responses by the Crossville Fire Department. The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office responded to 20 calls at the location.

Some of the agencies may have responded to the same incident, E-911 Director Eric Ritzman noted.

Dunaway said he was approached about a month ago asking if he would consider filing a public nuisance lawsuit against the property. These are civil lawsuits, but do fall within his office's purview. He filed a successful public nuisance lawsuit against the Budget Inn in Cumberland County in 2015, resulting in its closure for over a year.

In that case, Dunaway worked with law enforcement to prepare an affidavit presented to a court seeking a temporary injunction closing the business.

A hearing held shortly after the closure upheld the temporary restraining order of the business and, several months later, a court issued a final order declaring the property a public nuisance. That order prohibited operating the site as a hotel for an additional 9 months.

"It worked. We have not had any problems out of that facility since then," Dunaway said. "The challenge with nuisance actions are, from my perspective, you better have your ducks in a row."

Dunaway said his office had no direct involvement in the July 27 closure.

The Village Inn was closed briefly in 2009 due to health and safety concerns.

In that instance, the city obtained an administrative order prior to carrying out a surprise inspection of the premises.

The complex was reopened when deficiencies were addressed.

Heather Mullinix is editor of the Crossville Chronicle. She covers schools and education in Cumberland County. She may be reached at hmullinix@crossville-chronicle.com.