Federal suit filed in Acadia scuffle

Posted Aug. 25, 2009, at 8:10 p.m.

ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine — A Jordan Pond House employee who was handcuffed and knocked unconscious during a scuffle with park rangers last August has filed a seven-count federal lawsuit alleging that the rangers violated his constitutional rights.

In his lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Bangor, Timothy Wild, 32, of Seal Harbor also is seeking compensation for $4,000 in medical costs, $1,000 for about a week’s worth of lost wages and for the emotional pain, distress and humiliation he suffered when he was handcuffed and thrown to the ground by park rangers in front of 40 to 50 of his friends and co-workers from the Jordan Pond House.

The lawsuit comes two weeks after federal prosecutors cleared Rangers James Lyon, Louis Jahrling and Kevin Donnell, who were accused of using excessive force during the Aug. 18, 2008, incident on Day Mountain.

The decision not to pursue action against the rangers came months after the conclusion of an internal investigation into the incident by National Park Service investigators in Philadelphia.

Attempts to get comment from spokesmen for the National Park Service and Acadia National Park early Tuesday evening were not successful.

In his lawsuit, Wild, who is being represented by Bar Harbor attorney Jon Holder, accused the rangers of false imprisonment, assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence and malicious prosecution.

Wild, whose residence has been identified as Portland, Ore., also alleged that the three rangers involved in the incident violated his constitutional right to be free from unlawful searches and seizures.

Wild, who is working at the Jordan Pond House again this summer, maintains that Lyon used excessive force against him after Lyon and Jahrling detained a group of about 40 people at the summit of Day Mountain in the early morning hours of Aug. 18, 2008.

Donnell is a supervising ranger who arrived at the scene after Lyon and Jahrling initially detained the group.

Lyon and Donnell were placed on administrative duty during the National Park Service investigation but have returned to their regular roles.

According to previous reports, people who were present during the incident last year indicated that most of the people at the gathering were Jordan Pond House employees, who have a tradition of taking a midnight hike to the summit each summer. The annual event is not organized or sanctioned by Acadia Corp., the company that has concessions with Acadia to run the restaurant and three gift shops in the park.

Lyon and Jahrling detained the group after park officials received a complaint and became concerned that there might be underage drinking or other illegal activity at the gathering. Consumption of alcohol is legal in many sites throughout Acadia, including at Day Mountain, but underage drinking, public intoxication and posses-sion of marijuana all are prohibited.

Wild, who said he consumed a beer earlier in the evening and addressed the rangers with profanity, was subdued by Lyon after he vocally objected to what he said was rude and physically rough treatment by rangers of Katherine Junkert, another Jordan Pond House employee who was on the outing. Lyon, Wild claims, threw him face-first to the ground, knocking him unconscious and injuring his face, left shoulder and right wrist.

Wild later was taken by ambulance to a Bar Harbor hospital for treatment of his injuries, which included four fractured bones in his face.

Wild claims he had been handcuffed by Lyon before Lyon threw him to the ground. In an internal National Park Service report Lyon later wrote about the incident, the ranger indicated that he was trying to handcuff Wild when he forced Wild to the ground.

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