Nacogdoches woman who was pepper-sprayed at protest appeals lawsuit dismissal

BEAUMONT, TX (KTRE) - Attorneys for the 76-year-old Nacogdoches woman who was pepper-sprayed in the eyes by a Cherokee County Sheriff's deputy during a November 2012 protest of TransCanada Keystone pipeline have filed an appeal in the wake of a federal judge's decision to dismiss the lawsuit.

The plaintiff in the case, Barbara Jeannette Singleton, is appealing the case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The paperwork was filed with the Fifth Circuit Tuesday.

After the defense requested a summary judgment in the case, U.S. District Judge Michael H. Schneider issued an order on Dec. 20, 2013 that dismissed Singleton's case "with prejudice."

In August 2013, the two parties in the lawsuit failed to come to a settlement agreement.

In the lawsuit complaint filed with the U.S. District Court in December 2012, Barbara Jeannette Singleton's lawyer, a 76-year-old great-grandmother, claimed Singleton was pepper-sprayed in the eyes by CCSO deputy Michael Darby while she was peaceably protesting the construction of the TransCanada pipeline in November.

Singleton "did not violate any law … did not pose any threat … did not refuse to comply with any command … was not given any warning' when Darby sprayed her, Singleton's attorney Curtis Stuckey wrote in the lawsuit's complaint.

"The pepper spray was extremely painful," Stuckey wrote. 'Plaintiff Singleton has given birth to four children, two without anesthetic, and the pepper spray was more painful than childbirth."

Singleton was one of more than 100 people showing their support for three protesters who had climbed 50-foot pine trees to create "tree blockades" with their lifelines attached to heavy equipment on the ground below them.

"As the court points out it was a tense situation with protestors climbing on the truck, banging on the truck and the officer was trying to prevent things from getting out of hand," said the deputy's attorney, Chad Rook.

The proposed pipeline will extend pipeline capacity 485 miles from Cushing, Okla., to Nederland.

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