Tenn. Apartment Owner Files $2.5 Million Lawsuit against State

November 25, 2007

A $2.5 million lawsuit has been filed by the owner of a Nashville, Tenn., apartment complex against the state, its Department of Children’s Services and a teenage arsonist who set a series of apartment fires last year.

The suit states that the state, Youth Villages Inc. – a nonprofit company that provides mental health services for children – and the group home Youth Villages oversees allowed a boy to flee state custody and set the fires.

The then-13-year-old set three fires at the Jamestown Apartment complex last November. One of those fires at the south Nashville complex left more than 15 families homeless.

The damage, including loss of rental income, was more than $1.2 million, according to the suit filed on Nov. 19 by First Management Co.

The company is seeking up to $2 million in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages. A spokeswoman for Youth Villages said she had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment, and a DCS spokesman said in an e-mail he could not comment on the lawsuit or whether the teen is still in state custody.

DCS has previously said the teen fled the group home by jumping from a second-story window.

The lawsuit alleges that the teenager has since pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated arson and reckless endangerment.

The suit states the teen was in state custody because of previous violations of the law and should not have been allowed to flee the Binkley Group Home.

Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com

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