Turner Broadcasting System drops appeal of $281 million judgment

Atlanta-based Turner Broadcasting System withdrew a court appeal Monday opposing a $281 million verdict against it in a breach-of-contract lawsuit involving the 2003 sale of the Hawks and Thrashers.

Turner had previously vowed to fight what it called an "erroneous" and "excessive" judgment in which it was ordered to pay Texas car dealer David McDavid.

“In the interest of bringing this seven-year-long matter to a conclusion, we have chosen to resolve it through a settlement," Turner spokeswoman Misty Skedgell said Monday. "Our focus has been and remains on the future of our business.”

As part of the deal, the settlement terms are not being disclosed, Skedgell said.

"It's been settled and we're happy that it's been resolved," said McDavid's attorney, Mickey Mixson.

McDavid signed a letter of intent to buy the teams and arena rights from Turner in 2003. The letter, which gave him exclusive negotiating rights, expired. But both sides continued to negotiate.

Later that same year, Turner announced that the Atlanta Spirit ownership group had cemented a deal to buy the teams and the arena rights. The Spirit, an eight-man group of investors, included the son and son-in-law of Turner Broadcasting founder Ted Turner.

McDavid subsequently filed a $450 million breach-of-contract lawsuit.

During the eight-week trial in late 2008, McDavid accused Turner executives of breaking an oral contract and sharing his confidential financial information with the Spirit.

The jury awarded McDavid $281 million -- nearly three times the $96 million he agreed to pay for the teams and the arena rights -- in December 2008.

Turner appealed the ruling to the Georgia Court of Appeals, which upheld the lower court verdict this past March. Turner appealed to the state Supreme Court in April.

The high court had not decided whether it would hear the appeal when Turner withdrew it.