Andrea Dearden Sep. 22, 2014, 3:58pm

A Houston couple alleges they were threatened and harassed by several Harris County agencies and employees after they cut trees down behind their house.

Brian W. and Therese L. Eukel filed a lawsuit against Harris County on Aug. 19 in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas.  The Eukels, and their two children, moved into the house on Bramblewood Drive in November 1991, according to the petition. The house backs up to an easement along Buffalo Bayou in west Houston owned by the Harris County Flood Control District. The couple says the area is home to wild vegetation and animals. In the mid-1990s, according to the Eukels, the county took over many aspects of caring for the easement in hopes of adding the area to the already-established Terry Hershey Park east of Eldridge Road. However, they say they the county has never provided them with formal rules or policies for area residents whose homes back up to the property.  In spring 2013, Brian Eukel says he took it upon himself to remove weeds, vines and other growth that was overtaking a grove of trees on the slope behind his property. A pile of brush and dead branches was left at the edge of the easement, Eukel states.

In November 2013, while clearing away the dead brush from the easement, Eukel says he noticed three trees in the area were diseased and dropping large, bug-riddled limbs. He says he cut them down, fearing the disease would spread.

But shortly thereafter, the Eukels say they received an angry phone call from Harris County Commissioner Steven Radack accusing them of removing the trees without permission and of not cleaning up the site.    The lawsuit also alleges the Eukels were then accused of extending the land behind their home to give them more property, which they denied. They allegedly were given a deadline to remove the extra fill by Jan. 23, 2014, and told they were responsible for removing the tree stumps left behind.

The Eukels allege they have been targeted by Commissioner Radack and Harris County, and had their equal protection rights and due process rights provided under the 14th Amendment violated. They allege they were forced to comply with vague rules handed down by the county that others in their neighborhood did not follow.

The Eukels seek an unspecified amount of money in compensation for what they paid to follow the demands of the county, plus interest and court costs. 

The couple is represented by attorney Jacqueline A. Armstrong of Houston. They request a jury trial.

Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas case number: 4:14-CV-2385

This is a report on a civil lawsuit filed at the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas. 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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