LIBERTY — A judge issued a temporary restraining order Friday in a dispute centering around control of the Brushy Creek Ranch Facebook page.
Ranch manager Christopher Neal Kimball asked for the restraining order and preliminary injunction against his business partner, John Isaac Nygren of Springfield, Mo., and their business, Pinnacle Adventures LLC, on Thursday in Amite County Circuit Court.
According to the motion, Nygren seized control of the ranch’s Facebook page Tuesday in a “full blast attempt to close down and destroy Brushy Creek Ranch.”
The motion, filed by Kimball’s attorney Alfred Felder of McComb, said Nygren and Kimball had been the only two people who could administer the Facebook page, and that Kimball discovered Tuesday he had been blocked from it.
Tuesday’s initial Facebook post read:
“Chris Kimball, former employee of Brushy Creek Ranch, convicted of assault, under investigation for livestock theft. All kids cowboy camps cancelled. No refunds. Awaiting approval from Department of Health Services to correct numerous health code violations. If you value the safety of your family, kids, and horses consider not supporting this ranch until new, honest, accountable, and competent management is in place. Do yourselves a favor and read this article along with first hand accounts at the bottom of the page. Expose this dangerous fraud. Do not let him continue to disgrace our service members!
“This page has not been hacked. We are the owners of Brushy Creek Ranch and have just come to find out who Chris and Ashli Kimball truly are. They have been mismanaging the business with negligence, which is why we are posting this. We care more about the safety of children at the ranch than we do about keeping appearances and making profits off of hardworking people.”
The post referred to Kinball’s recent conviction for simple assault, a charge of felonious livestock theft, both in Amite County, as well as an article on the Guardians of the Green Beret website saying Kimball falsely claimed to have served in the Special Forces.
Health department officials have made several visits to the ranch, but the Mississipi State Department of Health website does not show any child-care violations by either Brushy Creek Ranch or Pinnacle Adventures.
Tuesday’s Facebook post was later shortened to the first few sentences with the addition, “We are currently working on a shift in management.”
The posts generated hundreds of comments.
Later in the week the post was changed to say, “We are aware of several complaints, and we will do our best to fulfill any obligations of the ranch. Please bear with us as we look into the matters brought to our attention.”
According to Kimball’s motion, “The Facebook page posts are intended to harm (Kimball), to harm Brushy Creek Ranch, and to post slanderous and libelous writings on the Facebook page.”
It added that “any responses that are made to the Facebook page that are favorable to (Kimball) are deleted immediately, thus, there is not a balance of opinions nor any opinions of (Kimball) that can be posted.”
Felder asked the judge to enter a temporary restraining order so “the parties can sit down and discuss the problems that have been created by the change in the Facebook page.”
He noted that he and Kimball made numerous attempts to contact Nygren without success. Nygren has also not responded to requests for comment from the Enterprise-Journal.
According to Kimball’s motion, “There have been no health code violations as stated by John Nygren in his Facebook post. This Facebook post was made while a camp was being run at the ranch. All reservations for the week of July 8, 2019, have now been cancelled due to the Facebook post by John Nygren, causing profit loss.”
Some 150 campers had been scheduled, the motion said.
In her ruling Friday, Judge Debbra Blackwell wrote, “The Court encourages the Applicant and the Defendants (boith with their attorneys) to meet and discuss the controversies concerning Brushy Creek Ranch and Christopher Neal Kimball.”
The judge ordered Nygren to cease posting additional “derogatory comments, allegations, and claims” until the matter can he heard in court.
The judge also ordered that Kimball be restored as an administrator to the page, enabling him to challenge claims made by Nygren and others.