The lawsuit between the Ardent Companies LLC and the city of Brookhaven over a controversial land deal has bounced back and forth in court for months but appears to be over. For now.
Ardent failed to build a mixed-use development in 2018, and accused the city of obstructing the rezoning and putting a $3 million price tag on the land despite never having it appraised.
The real estate company claimed Brookhaven tried to get three acres out of the deal for its public safety building. The city later chose a different parcel for the public safety building.
The lawsuit was appealed by Brookhaven, then overturned in the city’s favor and is now being vacated.
DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Tangela M. Barrie released a remand on Sept. 22, stating the case may be retried with clear limits on how evidence is presented to the jury “if at all, since the City of Brookhaven is no longer a defendant in this case.”
For the lawsuit to reappear in court, Ardent would have to file a new lawsuit.
“After hearing the arguments of counsel and reviewing the trial’s transcripts, this Court agrees with and follows the rationale as articulated by Brookhaven’s counsel at the May 24 hearing,” the judge wrote.
“It has been a long, arduous ordeal, not only for me, but for my whole family. They should never have been subjected to this pejorative verdict and judgment,” said Mayor John Ernst. “I make no apologies that I refused to compromise the city or its residents to the whims of an overzealous and unscrupulous developer. I am grateful that this is behind us now and we are finally vindicated in this matter.”
“I hope this ruling dispels the widespread rumors and innuendo in the community that were caused during and after this lawsuit. As I’ve always said, we were never doing anything other than what we are supposed to be doing, which is protecting the interests and assets of the taxpayers,” said City Manager Christian Sigman.
City Attorney Jeremy Berry added: “Judge Barrie’s ruling is another positive step towards the resolution of this unfounded lawsuit. A private developer cannot force a city to abandon property for the developer’s financial gain.”
Ardent did not respond to Rough Draft’s request for a comment.