Fluoride Action Network

Chancellor dismisses South Blount fluoride lawsuit

Source: The Daily Times (serving Maryville, Alcoa and Blount County) | November 18th, 2008

Chancellor Telford E. Forgety today dismissed a lawsuit seeking to force South Blount County Utility District to stop fluoridating its water supply and to provide documentation showing fluoride in water is safe to drink.

The utility’s Board of Directors voted Jan. 2 to begin fluoridation at the request of Blount County Mayor Jerry Cunningham. Fluoridation ultimately began in May. Linda King, of Citizens for Blount County’s Future, filed the lawsuit in Blount County Chancery Court in May. She filed the suit individually and as a representative of “14,000 John and Jane Does representing the approximate number of water consumers of the South Blount County Utility District.”

In stating his reasoning for the dismissal, Forgety said the plaintiffs did not show that any specific law or regulation had been violated by the board. Forgety said it is a long-standing principle in Tennessee that the courts do not interfere in decisions that public officials have the discretion to make.

“The courts will not interfere in the exercise of a public official’s discretion,” he said. “His decision may be right, may be wrong, but the court cannot operate South Blount Utility District, the court cannot operate Blount County, the court cannot operate Blount County Schools. … The court cannot come along behind boards and commissions to second guess their decisions.”

King said she would discuss her options with her attorney Thomas Mabry concerning whether to appeal.

“What I get out of the system today is that Mayor Cunningham has rights, the Board of Commissioners of South Blount County Utility District have rights and the citizens have none,” King said. “It [fluoride] is a drug, it’s a toxic waste chemical and they are forcing us to ingest it.”

District Manager Henry Durant said the district can now concentrate on operating in today’s challenging economic conditions.

“We’re just pleased with the outcome and hope things just go forward from here,” he said. “We will not have to worry about that now. We were fairly confident what the outcome would be, but you never know until you get to court.”

Mabry said, afterwards, that he thought there were several issues to base an appeal upon,

More details, as they develop, online and in Wednesday’s edition of The Daily Times.