Capitol protester loses battle in court

Activist organized '05 TennCare sit-in

Before there was Occupy Nashville, there was "Occupy the Governor's Office."

From June 20 through Sept. 14, 2005, Karl Davidson and other TennCare enrollees participated in a continuous sit-in demonstration to protest approved amendments to TennCare that resulted in the disenrollment of thousands of TennCare enrollees.

Davidson was one of those disenrolled from TennCare and obviously was not happy about it.

In October of 2007, Davidson filed suit which alleged that, during the June-September sit-in, he and other participants were "regularly harassed and intimidated by then Deputy Gov. Dave Cooley and others 'under the direction and control' of then Gov. Phil Bredesen."

He claimed that he and his fellow demonstrators were denied access to food and water on several occasions, which jeopardized his health because of his medical conditions, including diabetes among other charges.

A ruling this past week by Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle disagrees.

Hobbs states in her verdict on the case that, "[A]s a mixed matter of fact and law, the Court finds the Plaintiff/s de minimus allegations do not support a claim of First Amendment retaliation. The Plaintiff has not met his burden of establishing that Defendants' actions were severe enough to deter him from exercising his rights, and further, he has not demonstrated sufficiency to determine a person of ordinary firmness from further participation in the protest activity."

Hobbs then ruled that court costs are taxed to the plaintiff and her judgment was final.

Former U.S. Attorney Hal Hardin and Harold Donnelly represented Bredesen and Cooley in the case. Joseph Howell Johnston and John Herbison represented Davidson.