$1M suit against sheriff, bank

Pair claim distress, injuries from arrest over counterfeit bills

By Josh Flory knoxnews.com

Two residents of Lenoir City have filed a $1 million lawsuit against the Loudon County sheriff and a bank, in connection with an incident in which they say they were arrested on suspicion of passing counterfeit currency.

Vicki Childs and Julie Sills are the plaintiffs in a suit that was filed Friday in U.S. District Court. The women allege that in July 2007, Childs obtained $700 - including six $100 bills - from the drive-through window of a United Community Bank branch in Lenoir City. The suit states that several days later, Childs and Sills returned to the branch with the six $100 bills and Childs deposited four $100 bills to cover her house payment.

The suit alleges that after Childs returned home, she spoke by telephone with a representative of the bank who told her two of the $100 bills were counterfeit.

After she returned to the bank, the suit states, Loudon County Sheriff's Deputy Chad Estes entered, drew his weapon and ordered the plaintiffs to raise their hands. The suit states that after they were removed from the branch, the handcuffed plaintiffs were placed over the hood of a sheriff's department cruiser and made to stand in that position while Estes spoke with representatives of the bank.

The suit states that when Childs said she received the $100 bills from the bank, a bank security officer called her a liar. It also alleges that while they were under arrest, the bank refused to provide the bills in question to a detective who asked for them and that the bank has failed to voluntarily produce video records of the events.

The suit alleges that no criminal charges have been brought against the plaintiffs in connection with the incident and that they suffered significant emotional distress and physical injuries. The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages of at least $1 million.

Loudon County Sheriff Tim Guider, named as a defendant in the case, declined to comment, saying his office has not been served. Guider said he didn't think that Estes, also named as a defendant, would have a comment either.

Steve Hurst, East Tennessee president for United Community Bank, said the bank has not been served and that he wasn't able to comment.