Pioneer Days Pick'n & Grin'n
Wednesday Morning Fire Destroys Home In Rickman
Former Pickett Woman Awarded $160,000 In
Days Pick'n & Grin'n
The Pioneer Days Festival returned to the Livingston
Square on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, Aug. 24-26. Several bluegrass
bands got together for pickin' and grinnin' during the celebration.
Locals and out-of-towners joined in the festivities held over the
Morning Fire Destroys Home In Rickman
An early morning fire damaged the home of Tammy Honeycutt
on Wednesday, Aug. 23. The Windle Community Road home near Rickman
had major damage to one end of the trailer and smoke damage throughout.
Honeycutt's sister, Tabitha Honeycutt, who was at
the trailer, reportedly saw the lights flickering and heard crackling
before calling 911. The Rickman Fire Department responded minutes
later. Firefighters from the Putnam County and Hardy's Chapel fire
departments also responded to the scene.
The fire was thought have stemmed from an electrical
Former Pickett Woman
Awarded $160,000 In Suit
A longstanding lawsuit in Pickett County has been decided by United
States District Judge William J. Haynes Jr. Former Pickett County
resident Mary Matthews was awarded $160,000 in a case involving
the duties of law enforcement officers.
The case was first filed in December 1994. Mary Matthews filed
the action against Pickett County and Larry Peek and Dana Dowdy
individually and as employees of the Pickett County Sheriff's Department.
According to a report in the Pickett County Press, the claim arose
from a divorce proceeding against her late husband, Bill Winningham.
The court documents state, "Based on her husband's prior history
of physical and sexual assault, the Circuit Court of Pickett County
issued a Protective Order on October 15, 1993 to bar her husband
from contacting her and directed all law enforcement officers to
arrest her husband in the event that the husband violated the Court's
Matthews alleged that on November 18, 1993, she reported to the
Pickett County Sheriff's Office that her husband called and threatened
to kill her. Deputies Peek and Dowdy arrived at the Matthews residence
and requested Winningham to leave, but did not arrest him, despite
the Order of Protection. Winningham did leave the premises.
The deputies also advised Matthews to leave and escorted her to
a location outside Pickett County.
The husband returned later to her home to set a fire that destroyed
its contents and her pets, as well as riddling her car with bullets.
Matthews claimed the deputies knew her husband violated an Order
of Protection and that he posed an imminent threat to her person
and property, but failed to arrest him, thereby breaching their
special duty to protect her under the State Court Order.
Before the recent ruling, a court ruled the defendants were immune
from liability and that Tennessee law did not recognize any special
duty to protect Matthews. She appealed to the Sixth Circuit that
certified to the Tennessee Supreme Court for a ruling. The Tennessee
Supreme Court concluded that the special duty exception did exist
under Tennessee law and that it could be applied in this case. The
action was then set for a bench trial held June 26, 2000.
The court ruled that Peek and Dowdy breached a special duty, stating
"As a result of their breaches of this special duty, the Court
concludes that Matthews is entitled to damages against the defendant
Pickett County for the loss of her property."
She could not receive anything for emotional distress from the
county, but could recover damages from Peek and Dowdy for emotional
"The Court concludes that based on the proof Matthews is
entitled to $30,000 in damages for her property loss and $130,000
for the emotional distress she has had to endure for years due to
the defendants Peek's and Dowdy's breaches of their duty of special
protection of Matthews under the State Order of Protection."
The court document further states, "The Court finds that the
facts establish that the defendants Peek and Dowdy were seriously
negligent in their failures to honor the State Court's Order of
Protection for Matthews. These defendants' failures to arrest Winningham
were the proximate causes of the injuries to Matthews, including
her mental distress."
The court said the damages were for a breach of duty, not a loss
Counties are required to have insurance with a minimum limit of
not less than $130,000. Pickett County Executive Jack Whittenburg
told the Pickett County Press that the county's insurance carrier
will file an appeal of the ruling.
Bill Winningham was shot and killed on Friday, July 16, 1999. Matthews
is now a citizen of Alabama.
Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570