Cannon County Second District Commissioner Corey Davenport, having had a harassment charge against him by Rick Shaner dismissed on Monday, filed a lawsuit against Shaner on Tuesday.
The suit was filed in Cannon County Circuit Court by Davenport's attorney, Nathan Luna. Davenport is the Plaintiff and Shaner is the Defendant.
The text of the filing follows:
COMES NOW the Plaintiff, Corey S. Davenport, by and through counsel, and for his complaint to this Honorable Court states as follows:
1. The Plaintiff is a citizen and resident of Cannon County, Tennessee.
2. The Defendant is a citizen and resident of Cannon County, Tennessee.
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
3. This Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this dispute pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann.§ 16-10-101.
4. This Court is the proper venue to hear this dispute pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 20-4-101.
5. This Complaint is for defamation and malicious prosecution based upon statements and actions taken by Defendant in November and December 2018.
6. Plaintiff would show that Defendant runs and_ operates a Facebook page called "Fix Cannon County Tn Govt." As of the filing of this cause, Defendant's Facebook page is a public page with 433 "likes" and 490 "followers."
7. Plaintiff would show that he 1s an elected official serving as one of ten county commissioners representing the second district of Cannon County, Tennessee.
8. Plaintiff would show that on November 2, 2018 Defendant stated on his Facebook page that Plaintiffs position on the local wheel tax "wreaks of an attempt to give a payback for votes ... "
9. Plaintiff would further show that on November 3, 2018 Defendant stated on his Facebook page that "Corey's got to pay for the votes he got ... "
10. Plaintiff would show that, prior to Defendant's statements, he advocated for local volunteer firefighters to have their wheel tax abated by resolution of the Cannon County Board of County Commissioners.
11. Plaintiff would show that Defendant's statements were brought to his attention by other members of the community that contacted him to inquire as to whether he ever paid for votes.
12. Plaintiff would show that, as a public official, statements made by Defendant about paying for votes exposed him to public contempt, as well as loss of public confidence as an elected official.
13. Plaintiff would show that Defendant knew his statement was false when it was made, and Defendant failed to investigate or determine the truthfulness of Defendant's statement prior to publicizing it on his Facebook page.
14. Plaintiff would show that he has never paid for or promised anything to anyone in exchange for the person or organization's votes.
15. Plaintiff would show that on November 5, 2018 he contacted Defendant via text message and demanded he take down the defamatory Facebook posts.
16. Plaintiff would show Defendant did not respond to his text message but did remove all references to Plaintiff from those two (2) Facebook posts.
17. Plaintiff would further show that on December 8, 2018 Defendant caused Plaintiff to be arrested for harassment.
18. Plaintiff would show that on February 11, 2019 a preliminary hearing was held in the General Sessions Court of Rutherford County, Tennessee. After the preliminary hearing, the Honorable Ben Bennett, sitting by interchange, found that Defendant did not have probable cause to charge Plaintiff with harassment and dismissed Defendant's criminal complaint.
19. Plaintiff would show that Defendant's only motive for bringing harassment charges against Plaintiff was to annoy and injure Plaintiffs reputation. Specifically, prior to having him arrested, Defendant has made prior statements that Defendant is an ass, a narcissist, a person with no integrity, and someone that is not interested in being an advocate for those that elected him.
20. Plaintiff would show that his "mug shot" was posted on several social media pages, as well as the local newspaper, The Cannon Courier, which included a front-page article of Plaintiff's "mug shot" with the heading: Textual Harassment.
21. Plaintiff would further show that he has been compelled to make public statements as to his innocence in an attempt to maintain the public's confidence in him as an elected official.
CAUSES OF ACTION
COUNT ONE: DEFAMATION
22. Plaintiff repeats the allegations contained in paragraphs one (1) through twenty-one (21) as though set forth verbatim herein.
23. Plaintiff would show Defendant communicated a statement that referred to Plaintiff, to-wit: two (2) Facebook posts on November 2, 2018 and November 3, 2018.
24. Plaintiff would show Defendant's statements were made to persons other than Plaintiff, to-wit: Defendant's public Facebook page.
25. Plaintiff would show that Defendant's statement was defamatory, to-wit: Plaintiff has had to reassure members of the public that he has not bought or paid for any votes.
26. Plaintiff would show that Defendant's statements were read by members of the public who understood its defamatory meaning and that the statements referred to Plaintiff, to wit: Plaintiff was notified of the statements by other members of the community that contacted him directly to ask him whether he was aware Defendant had published two (2) statements that Plaintiff bought or paid for votes.
27. Plaintiff would show that Defendant knew his two (2) statements were false when they were made, to-wit: Defendant immediately removed the defamatory statements upon being informed by Plaintiff that Defendant knew the statements were false.
28. Plaintiff would further show Defendant was high degree of awareness that the published statements were probably false for the reasons stated in paragraph twenty-seven (27) of this Complaint.
COUNT TWO: MALICIOUS PROSECUTION
29. Plaintiff would show Defendant caused a criminal proceeding against him, to-wit: the criminal charge of harassment on December 8, 2018.
30. Plaintiff would show Defendant acted with malice, to-wit: Plaintiffs charges were dismissed on February 11, 2019 and Defendant's purpose for having Plaintiff arrested was to injure Plaintiffs reputation in the community.
31. Plaintiff would show Defendant did not have probable cause to have Plaintiff charged with harassment, to wit: the facts existing at the time Defendant obtained an arrest warrant did not meet the elements of criminal harassment.
32. Plaintiff would show the case against him ended in his favor. to-wit: the criminal charges against Plaintiff were dismissed by the Court on February 11, 2019.
33. Plaintiff repeats the allegations contained in paragraphs one (1) through thirty-two (32) as though set forth verbatim herein.
34. Defendant's acts and omissions were intentional, fraudulent, reckless, and proximately caused Plaintiff's damages. Furthermore, the acts and omissions of the Defendant is the legal cause of Plaintiffs damages, as set forth herein, all of which would not have happened but for the acts and omissions of the Defendant.
35. As a direct, legal and proximate cause of the intentional, fraudulent and reckless acts of Defendant as described above, Plaintiff has suffered the following damages:
a. Attorney's fees and costs on the underlying criminal action;
b. Public ridicule in the local newspaper;
c. Public ridicule on social media;
d. Exposure to loss of public confidence by those that elected him;
e. Loss of reputation;
f. Emotional Distress.
36. As a direct, legal and proximate cause of the intentional, fraudulent, reckless and malicious acts of Defendant, the Plaintiff is entitled to an award of punitive damages. WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays for judgment against Defendant as follows:
I. That a summon be issued and served upon Defendant as required by law;
II. That Plaintiff be awarded compensatory damages in the ,amount of Forty Thousand Dollars ($40,000.00)
III. That Plaintiff b awarded punitive damages in the amount of Sixty Thousand Dollars ($60,000.00) for the fraudulent, intentional, reckless malicious conduct of Defendant;
IV. That a jury of twelve (12) citizens be empaneled to try this cause;
V. All other general relief to which Plaintiff may be entitled.