Attorney: Jackson County, sheriff, deny wrongdoing

Doctor says he was falsely accused of growing marijuana on his farm

mbbaker@sunherald.comMarch 28, 2013 

Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd


JACKSON COUNTY -- The county, Sheriff Mike Byrd and the Narcotics Task Force of Jackson County are denying allegations of wrongdoing outlined in a federal lawsuit filed by a former Pascagoula heart surgeon.

David Bruce Allen was accused in 2009 of growing marijuana on his 50-acre farm but the charges were dismissed in 2011.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court, says Allen, who left the Coast in 2008 to open a medical marijuana practice in California, was the victim of false arrest, false imprisonment for more than a year, slander and libel, assault and battery, emotional distress and irreparable loss of his property and reputation. Allen is seeking not less than $51 million in compensatory damages and $500 million in punitive damages. The suit claims he was the victim of civil, constitutional and human rights violations.

"The defendants deny their participation in any wrongdoing at … (Allen's farm) or at any other location," according to the motion filed by Attorney Jackye C. Bertucci on behalf of Jackson County, Byrd and the task force.

The lawsuit, filed by Gulfport attorney Michael Crosby, says the agents "burned property in the front yard in a bonfire fashion, acted like hooligans yelling and screaming about this was going to be their property, how this would be their vacation resort and shooting range, campground, fishing place, scuba training facility, etc., (and) played pool and ping pong on the their tables."

The motion filed by Bertucci, however, said Byrd "acted in an objectively reasonable manner and in good faith and as such is entitled to qualified immunity" and that "deputies … are properly hired, trained and supervised."

The county further contends the task force is not considered an entity subject to suit under the law.

They are requesting the suit be dismissed with prejudice, assessing all attorney's fees and court costs to Allen.

In addition, they also requested immunity for Jackson County and the task force and say Allen is not entitled to any punitive damages.

Jackson County and Byrd, through their attorney, say Allen "is not entitled to any relief whatsoever ..."

The Sun Herald emailed Byrd requesting comment Wednesday, but he did not respond.

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