A two year lawsuit between big cat rescuers and nearby neighbors settled recently as the parties finally came to an unpublished agreement. In 2011 nine residents of Roane County Tennessee filed a$10 million lawsuit against Tiger Haven, a nearby 50-acre facility that housed abused, neglected and formerly mistreated large cats such as tigers, lions, leopards, and jaguars.
The main thrust of the complaint of the nine neighbors was one of nuisance; claiming that the fifty acre facility destroyed the quiet enjoyment of neighbors. Specifically the plaintiffs allege that the nearly 250 large cats at Tiger Haven are an annoyance due to “caterwauling” (which is a shrill howling or wailing noise according to Webster.com), runoff of various contaminants such as urine and feces. The relief requested was a complete shutdown of the facility, or in the alternative an injunction to prevent Tiger Haven from acquiring anymore animals.
Tiger Haven was founded in 1988 by Knoxville Zoo volunteer Mary Lynn Haven, and she later obtained a permit to house one tiger. Quickly the establishment and number of animals housed there grew to the over 250 that reside there today. Some residents allegedly have additional environmental concerns as well as those for the animals being cared for there, stemming from years of involvement with the facility.
Tiger Haven filed a countersuit against plaintiffs alleging that the lawsuit was yet another tactic in their long term plan to harass and intimidate the rescue facility. The $2.5 million dollar countersuit takes issue with the neighbors’ “unlawful and deliberate campaign” of harassment against their lawful animal rescue enterprise. It seems that a variety of Roane County officials and residents have been gunning to shut down the facility for years now, but that hasn’t stopped Tiger Haven from continuing with its rescue work and the services it provides to the large creatures it houses.
The case has now been dismissed, without prejudice due to the recent agreement, though the two attorneys declined further comment on the settlement.
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