School system asks for dismissal of
Accident victim returns home
Girl dies from boating injuries at Dale Hollow
Board chairman says statement
system asks for dismissal of suit
Overton County school officials asked for dismissal
of a $4 million-plus lawsuit in a legal response filed Monday, Aug.
The suit, filed in late June by the parents and guardians
of 16 girls and a boy, concerns camera placements at Livingston
Middle School. Cameras were in an area that allowed viewing of a
portion of locker rooms.
The answer was filed by Michael P. Mills, of Mills
& Cooper, for defendants Overton County School Board, William Needham,
Robert Jolley, Melinda Beaty, Jerry Glasscock, David Langford, Dolphus
Dial, Joey Smith, Lenard Ledbetter, Edith Key, Donald Brown, Melody
Williams, Tim Coffee, and Michelle Thrasher.
The answer asserts, "These defendants demand
the complaint against them be dismissed with costs assessed against
The response begins by denying that the cameras were
hidden, and asserting that the areas were not locker rooms when
the cameras were installed.
"In response to the first unnumbered paragraph
of the complaint, these defendants deny the cameras were either
hidden or originally placed in what were at that time locker areas
at the Livingston Middle School," the answer states.
The response goes on to state, "The camera did
view parts of what later became a visiting team locker area.
"Due to the nature of the security system, the
infrequent use of this area of the school, and the times of such
use in conjunction with the location of the computer monitor, no
one realized the potential problem.
"The images of the entire school camera system
went to a computer in the school, which these defendants have been
told could be accessed by someone with the correct IP address, computer
program, correct identification, and password."
The response further states, "It is the understanding
of these defendants that images from the cameras were designed to
be directed to the computer in Mr. Jolley's office, and were stored
for some period of time on that computer in accordance with the
"Mr. Jolley became aware at some point that more
of the room could be seen than just the door and hallway, but it
is denied that Mr. Jolley had actual knowledge that the cameras
were on students in what later became visiting team locker areas.
"Mr. Jolley knew the computer in his office could
be accessed by other administrators within the system with the proper
identity and password, but did not know specifically how."
The response admits that the username/identity and
password remained at the original settings.
The lawsuit asserts that the computer hard drive
was accessed 98 times between July 12, 2002, and January 10, 2003.
The school system's answer states, "Allegations
of the complaint appear to reference the number of times the system
was accessed for any purpose. These defendants have no knowledge
that anyone ever viewed the images referenced in the complaint until
after the incidents on January 9, 2003."
The response also states that the number appears to
include times when school was not in session.
The response states, "These defendants deny any
knowledge that any images were ‘in fact' accessed by remote internet
computer connection. These defendants deny authorizing or failing
to take reasonable steps, based on their knowledge at the time,
to prevent images from being made accessible by remote internet
The answer also states, "These defendants deny
any fault, but these defendants aver that fault must be attributed
to those persons, if any, who intentionally and criminally accessed
the images of the plaintiffs, if any."
Girls on a visiting basketball team noticed a camera
on January 9 of this year and brought it to the attention of their
coach, who then notified LMS Principal Melinda Beaty.
A TBI agent, along with an investigator from Livingston
Police Department and an Overton County deputy, went to the school
the following evening to meet with school officials. The area in
question was investigated and the processing unit for the school's
camera system was removed at that time for further investigation.
No charges were filed in connection with the video cameras at LMS.
The lawsuit alleges Beaty assured the team that the
camera was either a "dummy" camera, or was not operable,
or was not oriented in a way that could obtain images of the children
dressing or undressing.
The school system's response states, "Ms. Beatty
told the coach that the camera was directed on an outside door and
hallway in the area. These defendants deny Ms. Beatty told anyone
the camera was a ‘dummy' or was not operable."
The lawsuit alleged that School Director Bill Needham
viewed the images and stated that they contained nothing more than
images of a few bras and panties.
The answer states, "At the request of other administrators,
Mr. Needham did review the images on the security system and did
state that the images showed some bras and panties. The implications
in the averments of Paragraph 23 of the complaint that Mr. Needham
did not take the situation seriously are denied."
As to any judgment that may be assessed against the
defendants, the school system's response asserts that immunities
and limited liability limits afforded under Tennessee Code Annotated
Section 29-20-101 apply. This would keep any judgment from reaching
the multi-million dollar range.
The lawsuit asks for $100,000 per child for compensatory
damages, $2,500,000 for punitive damages, and a permanent injunction
precluding Overton County School System from placing hidden video
or audio surveillance equipment in areas of the school system where
persons have a reasonable expectation of privacy, including but
not limited to locker room changing areas, rest rooms, and shower
areas. The suit also asks for a 12-person jury.
Named as defendants in the lawsuit are Overton County
School Board as an entity and the members individually, William
Needham, Robert Jolley, Melinda Beaty, Edutech Inc., and up to 20
as yet unidentified agents or employees or former employees of Overton
County School Board, Overton County School System, or Edutech, who
participated in the planning, designing, placement, or maintenance
of the video equipment at LMS.
Melinda Beaty, principal of LMS at the time, and Robert
Jolley, assistant principal at the time, were reassigned to other
areas in the school system on February 13.
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victim returns home
Kevin Burmeister/OCN staff
Happy to be back in his own room again, Jared Walker
takes it easy at his home in Rickman. "I'm just glad to be
home," he said. "And alive."
Jared Walker, 12, of Rickman, returned home Friday,
Aug. 15 for the first time since his four-wheeler accident of June
Walker suffered a traumatic brain injury and multiple
leg fractures when his all-terrain vehicle was struck by an SUV.
The brain injury affects his ability to talk and understand what
is happening around him.
According to his family, he is making progress every
day, but life can seem very scary to him because it is hard for
him to make sense of the world and what people are saying.
Walker's brain injury has also affected his long and
short-term memory, and small tasks that most can perform easily
require a tremendous amount of effort from him. But he is trying
hard and making progress in that area, too.
According to friends and relatives, his personality
is coming back, as is his sense of humor. Jared's leg was seriously
injured in the accident, and his recovery will be a long-term process.
His family does remain hopeful that he will walk again, but for
now, his prognosis is very uncertain. Because his leg must remain
straight at all times, he is unable to travel in a regular vehicle.
Donations are currently being collected to help the
family purchase a van with a lift. A fund has been established in
his name at Bank of Overton County and Bank of Putnam County to
assist his family with this expense.
Walker and his family expressed appreciation for
the community's financial help, as well as the prayers.
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dies from boating injuries at Dale Hollow
Tennessee Wildife Resources Agency (TWRA) is continuing the investigation
of a weekend boating accident that occurred on Dale Hollow Lake
and claimed the life of a 9 year-old Weirton, WV, girl.
Kinsley Ard was injured August 10 when the inner tube
she and a 17 year-old family friend were riding on slammed into
a tree on the bank of the Jouett Creek cove, about one-half mile
from Star Point Marina in Pickett County.
TWRA officers Craig Norris and Johnny Poston reported
that around 12:30 p.m. that Sunday, Richard Loeffler, 71, of Burgettstown,
PA, was operating an 11-foot Bombardier personal watercraft in the
Star Point cove, with a safety observer onboard, while pulling the
two youngsters on a tube. The investigation revealed that Loeffler,
a graduate of two national boating safety courses, was making a
sharp turn in a narrow section of the cove when the incident occurred.
Witnesses said the girl received head wounds when
her head struck a tree located approximately one foot from the shore.
Immediately after the collision, Loeffler transported the girl to
her parents in a boat nearby. The girl was taken to the marina and
transported to Livingston Regional Hospital, and then flown to Erlanger
Medical Center in Chattanooga. She died on Monday, Aug. 11 at T.C.
Thompson Children's Hospital in Chattanooga.
TWRA officers plan to present evidence to the Pickett
County District Attorney's Office that could result in charges ranging
from Reckless Operation of a Vessel to Negligent Homicide.
TWRA Region III Boating Safety Coordinator Matt Clarey
said, "Tennessee boaters should know the limitations of their
vessels and equipment, which includes the length and condition of
the pull rope. Being familiar with how a vessel operates while underway
and pulling a device with people onboard is very important to consider
in preventing this type of accident.
"Tubers and skiers should stay out of narrow
coves. And vessel operators should make the proper use of safety
observers as the life of those being pulled is in their hands."
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Board chairman says
statement was incorrect
By DEWAIN E. PEEK, OCN staff
When Nursing Home Board Chairman Grant Pennington spoke about the
workload of another nursing home during last month's meeting, he
was wrong. And he wants it known.
"What I said was just hearsay," a regretful Pennington
He was referring to what he said in the August 11 Overton County
Nursing Home Board regular session about the need for more staffing.
In that meeting, Pennington spoke of another nursing home in the
area being 13 positions short on CNAs, and an employee of that facility
working two weeks and 172 hours because of short-staffing.
Pennington said he based his remarks on what he thought to be true
at the time, but has since found out his information was incorrect.
"From what I'm hearing now, what I said was totally wrong,"
"I apologize for any hardship it may have caused."
Another topic discussed in the August 11 meeting that may need
clarifying was a vote to rescind the minutes of the previous meeting.
According to Tennessee Code Annotated 8-44-104, minutes must be
recorded. So, the minutes of a legal meeting cannot be erased.
When minutes are approved at a meeting, that is saying that the
minutes are correct. Changes to minutes should only be made when
the minutes on record are incorrect.
According to Chairman Pennington, the intent of the Board's action
was to disallow a contract approved in the meeting. Pennington said
that contract must be ratified by the County Commission to ever
Thus, the intent of the Board will still be carried out because
a recommendation on that contract will not be presented to the County
Commission. As for the official record, the meeting happened. As
for the action, it may very well be as if it never happened.
Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570