Used car dealer says deputies wrongfully seized vehicles, violated due process

Melody Dareing Mar. 6, 2014, 1:28pm

An investor in a used car business is suing Hopkins County and five sheriff's deputies on allegations they took property from her without a warrant or due process and falsely imprisoned her. 

Jody Bender filed the lawsuit Feb. 24 in the U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Texas Sherman Division against deputies Gary K. McLarry, Bradley A. Cummings, Paul H. Fenmore, Daniel Winn, Lewis Tatum, Hopkins County and John Doe, citing civil rights violations. 

The lawsuit states Bender had invested in a used car business in Sulfur Springs. A vehicle had been repossessed for non-payment in February 2012, the complaint states. Deputies came to the business, said the car was reported stolen and required the car be relinquished to law enforcement to be given back to the owner.

According to the suit, deputies took the car without a warrant and placed Bender under arrest without informing her of a charge. Bender claims she was eventually charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle.

Another car owner had a vehicle remaining on the property because he had not paid a bill for repairs, the complaint said. He came to the property in May 2012 stating a deputy had instructed him to pick up his vehicle even though the bill had not been paid.

Another deputy went to a vehicle owner in August 2012 and told that owner to surrender her truck because she wasn’t the rightful owner even though she had legally purchased the vehicle, the complaint said.

Bender is seeking $25,000 from the deputies, $250,000 from Hopkins County, plus court costs and pre-judgment and post-judgment fees.

She is being represented by David Davis of the Law Office of David Davis PLLC.

U.S. District Court Eastern District of Texas Sherman Division Court Case No. 4:14-cv-00116-RAS-DDB.

This is a report on a civil lawsuit filed at the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Texas Sherman Division. The details in this report come from an original complaint filed by a plaintiff. Please note that a complaint represents an accusation by a private individual, not the government. It is not an indication of guilt, and it represents only one side of the story.

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