Cops and Courts, News

Former Arthurdale neighbors sue each other

KINGWOOD — Former neighbors in Arthurdale are suing one another.

Tena R. Bartolo filed a civil suit against Christopher J. Miffitt and his wife, Erin E. Johnston, in Preston Circuit Court recently. Bartolo now lives in Morgantown but lived in Arthurdale at the time the suit addresses, it says.

In the suit, she says that on April 6, 2016, Miffitt sprayed her with bear mace. This caused her physical irritation that required an ambulance take her to a hospital, pain and suffering, humiliation and lost wages and other problems, according to the suit.

She asks for a judgment of compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney fees and other relief.

According to Bartolo’s lawsuit, the incident happened as Miffitt was cutting a  bush on the property line with a chainsaw in order to build a fence to keep her chickens off his property, when she went to speak to him. Miffitt had a pistol and the mace, and she had a bottle of tea, according to the suit.

Bartolo says Miffitt told Johnston to call the police when she approached. Johnston videotaped the incident with her phone, Bartolo says in the suit. He sprayed her as she tried to walk away, she says.

The suit says that after the incident, a protective order was issued against Miffitt, and Bartolo was accepted into the state’s Victim Assistance Program.

Records show that Miffitt was charged with battery for the 2016 incident. He was found innocent of the charge by a magistrate court jury.

Last week, Miffitt and Johnston sued Bartolo in Preston Circuit Court, citing “illegal and unwanted occupation and use,” of more than a half-acre of their land; hostility and threats toward them and their child; and criminal trespass with the intent to harass and threaten them with physical violence.

The suit also accuses Bartolo of manipulation, including falsification of court documents, false accusations against Miffitt in order to get the protective order and repeated refusals to stop encroaching on their property.

They, too, ask for monetary compensation for court costs, attorney fees and punitive damages.

Bartolo is represented by attorney Jeffrey Culpepper of Morgantown. Miffitt and Johnston consulted attorney Todd LeNeve of Clarksburg.  LeNeve said Friday that he has no comment at this time.