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|Lawsuit over Eagle raid heads to mediation; sources say no settlement letters|
|by Laura Douglas-Brown|
|November 19, 2010 14:15|
A federal judge ordered both sides of a lawsuit stemming from the Atlanta Police Department's botched raid on the Atlanta Eagle to meet Monday in court to attempt to mediate the case. But sources familiar with the case dispute a media report that the city has already sent settlement letters to some plaintiffs affected by the gay bar raid.
"The City of Atlanta has sent letters proposing possible settlements to the individual Plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit alleging violation of US Constitutional rights during the September 2009 raid of the Atlanta Eagle," Atlanta Progressive News reported today, noting that "two of the Plaintiffs confirmed receipt of the letters," which allegedly contain proposed monetary settlements based on how the individuals were treated during the raid.
But sources familiar with the case told the GA Voice that the letters were not sent by the city, but instead were internal communications between plaintiffs and their attorneys.
Matthew Cardinale, news editor for Atlanta Progressive News and the author of the article, said in an interview this afternoon that he did not see the letters for himself and did not ask to see them because he knew it was a sensitive topic and he was concerned that the sources would stop discussing the case with him.
"I may have incorrectly assumed the letter were offers from the city but maybe they were in fact letters [from their attorneys] to get on the record what people may want," he said.
Cardinale said he would look into the situation and update his story as needed.
Dan Grossman, lead attorney for the Eagle plaintiffs, declined comment on the case, citing a court gag order. Reese McCranie, a spokesperson for Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, also declined comment for the same reason.
The order, entered Nov. 10, requires the parties to meet Nov. 22 for mediation before Magistrate Judge Alan J. Baverman.
"Until the mediation is complete, the parties and counsel are ordered not to discuss the case with the media, other than to acknowledge that mediation has been scheduled," it said.
Patrons and staff of the Atlanta Eagle are suing the city in federal court after the raid, and have recently asserted that the city is not providing the information they have requested in the lawsuit's discovery phase. The Atlanta Police Department's Red Dog unit has been accused of illegally detaining the staff and patrons, searching them without warrants and using anti-gay slurs during the raid. The plaintiffs are represented by Grossman and attorneys with Lambda Legal and the Southern Center for Human Rights.
Mayor Reed recently announced the formation of a "blue ribbon panel" of legal scholars and attorneys from the Atlanta area, including several gay attorneys, with the goal of resolving the case.
Top photo: Staff and patrons of the Atlanta Eagle gather to mark the one-year anniversary of the controversial raid on the gay bar (by Dyana Bagby)
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