RUSKIN, Fla. – Cul-de-sac neighbors on Count Fleet Drive in Ruskin’s Belmont community have been hissing at each other for quite some time. As new neighbors move into the circle and change the dynamics, bringing diversity in age groups, kids, pets, and personalities, volatility has turned into a tragicomedy.
There’s humor in all the grief.
From appearances, a clique within the circle has developed, according to two restraining orders that describe the alleged pitting of neighbor against neighbor. Some are accused of essentially behaving like cyberstalkers or acting like the proverbial bully or harasser.
But according to the latest event, filed in Hillsborough County courts on May 25 by neighbor Erika Vallina, the stalker in the midst of this pseudo-Pleasant Valley Sunday suburb community, is allegedly Kevin the cat.
He’s the one accused of wreaking havoc in a neighborhood garage and digging his claws into Vallina’s leg, like, well, maybe it’s a tree trunk.
On May 25, Vallina filed a lawsuit “pro se” (without an attorney) describing how on March 1, Kevin snuck up behind her and attacked her left leg as she chatted with a neighbor. She screamed in pain as he left long, deep scratches and bites in the split of a second, requiring emergency room treatment at Brandon Regional Hospital, including four rabies shots in her stomach.
Kevin was not vaccinated, according to Vallina, who spoke with Kevin’s owners James Davis and Jennifer Huff Davis, which complicated matters since the Davis’s house backs into what Vallina described as “Bullfrog Creek,” where wild animals roam. Kevin was known to be out and about both day and night.
Vallina’s legal complaint describes the bazaar incident.
“Mid conversation, I screamed as I felt something grab on to the back of my leg and then felt a lot of pain. As I turned around I see that it was my cul-de-sac neighbor’s cat Kevin who belongs to Jennifer Huff Davis and James Davis…Please note that Kevin stalked me a handful of times before…”
Vallina continued that Jennifer Huff Davis was initially apologetic and expressed belief that Kevin was over that kind of behavior. Davis’s daughter joined the conversation, stating she too, had been attacked by Kevin, but that it had been a while. But when Vallina informed Jennifer Huff Davis that she must go to the emergency room, Davis allegedly became angry.
Vallina stated in her suit, “After we hung up the phone I was outside about to get in my car and I hear Jennifer screaming at the top of her lungs…something like…We should just move the f*** out of this neighborhood!’ Vallina alleged that Davis huffed and puffed her way to her neighbor’s house where a good friend of hers lives.
The next day, animal control explained to Vallina the prosecution process she could file against the Davises, but she declined to prosecute if the Davises would keep Kevin inside their home.
Photos attached to the lawsuit show Vallina’s bloody left leg after the attack. Her lawsuit demands $8,000, which appears to include medical bills of $2,564.78. It was filed after Vallina waited three months to receive compensation from the Davises, only to hear from James Davis that they would offer “$1,000 and call it a day.”
The Free Press contacted James Davis inquiring as to why Vallina claims he believed she should take some responsibility for the cat attack. He said, “The biggest thing here is that we don’t know that this is our animal. There’s nothing showing this is my animal.” The Davises also indicated they don’t get involved in the neighborhood drama.
Erika Vallina spoke to The Free Press as well, and when asked why she thought James Davis wanted her to assume some responsibility for the attack, she replied, “I’m still clueless.”
In the meantime, a series of alleged he said/she said routines seems to have exhausted the two neighbors’ relationship.
But this tale only scratches the surface of the troubled cul-de-sac which seems to operate like Peyton Place with too many secrets, whispers, and complicated relationships.
After the cat attack, two restraining orders were filed from Count Fleet Drive’s cul-de-sac – the first against Erika Vallina’s behavior towards next-door neighbor, Dana Chernault, which was filed April 26, and the second against Chernault’s behavior towards Vallina on May 4.
The story of these feuding neighbors appears to begin over Vallina’s loud and vulgar music, which prompted Chernault to record such an incident and call the Sheriff’s Office. According to Chernault’s summation, Vallina allegedly began to use her neighbors to gang up against Chernault by blasting loud heavy metal music (the Stells’ house) and spewing the same rants Chernault claims Vallina spewed. Repeatedly, Chernault heard that she was “trying to micromanage the community,” and should go live in a 55+ community.”
According to the bullying, this was a “normal neighborhood” until Chernault ruined it. Eventually, Chernault claims, she was sitting in her living room with “the walls booming.” Thereafter, she was allegedly threatened with a pit bull by the Stells who purportedly received a citation in 2020 because the animal maimed several neighbors’ dogs and nearly killed one. Collectively, neighbors would rant and scream at Chernault for as long as 18 minutes. Repeatedly, Hillsborough Sheriffs told Chernault to just keep recording the incidents.
Vallina’s restraining order claims she fears for her life because of Chernault’s harassment while she is mowing her lawn or washing her car. Vallina’s complaint never mentions Chernault’s frustrations over loud, vulgar music; only that Chernault makes unrecorded threats, then records Vallina’s response to make her look guilty of bad conduct. Vallina claims Chernault was annoyed by everything, and the neighborhood was peaceful until Chernault moved in two months earlier. She claimed that Chernault threatened her with her German Shepherd.
According to Hillsborough County court records, both parties received extensions of their requests for protection.
Erika Vallina indicated new court dates were set to resolve the cat attack and the restraining orders.
“We miss our happy neighborhood. I can’t wait for a resolution.”
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