Former Atlanta Housing Authority CEO Renee Glover will go to court to try to recoup at least $235,000 in legal fees she incurred defending herself against a lawsuit filed by the city last year.
Glover filed her suit Monday, the latest wrinkle in a nasty legal battle that started last year under then-Mayor Kasim Reed. In his final months in office, Reed pushed the AHA to sue companies affiliated with local developer Egbert Perry, and in December directed the city to file a separate suit against Perry and Glover seeking at least $100 million in damages.
The lawsuits revolved around allegations that Perry and Glover entered a backroom real estate deal that gave away a large portion of housing authority land at a steep discount. Perry and Glover have said the city misrepresented the terms.
VIDEO: Previous AHA coverage
A judge dismissed the AHA lawsuit against Perry’s companies. And in April, the city withdrew its lawsuit against Perry and Glover.
William B. Hill Jr., an attorney for Glover, said AHA is responsible for his client’s legal fees under an indemnification clause in the severance agreement she signed when she the left the agency in 2013.
The indemnification protects her against future potential litigation. It’s a common practice for governments and the private sector to offer legal protection to their leaders for actions they took in good faith.
Her lawsuit states Glover gave notice to the AHA that she had been sued by the city in January and that matter involved actions she took in good faith as the agency’s CEO.
“This whole lawsuit was based on a fiction that was created in order to pursue what I think was something horribly vindictive and horribly wasteful,” Glover said.
But nonetheless, preparing for the litigation put Glover in financial peril, Hill said.
“The whole idea was to force Ms. Glover into financial ruin,” Hill said.
To date, Glover has accumulated about $300,000 in legal fees, a figure that continues to mount as she prepares to sue the AHA to recoup those costs, Hill said.
The lawsuits and public actions by Reed and AHA officials also impugned Glover’s character, Hill said.
Glover’s lawsuit said the housing authority posted false information about Glover on the agency website and made false and disparaging statements about her in the media. Reed also sent a letter to the board of housing finance giant Fannie Mae, where Perry and Glover both serve as board members, accusing Glover of misconduct.
Hill said “true justice” for his client includes payment of all attorneys’ fees, payment for damages to her personal and business reputation and “a heartfelt apology.”
Reed could not be reached comment.
Perry, meanwhile, filed a countersuit against the city. That litigation is ongoing.
A spokesman for the housing authority said legal fees will be paid under the terms of Glover’s severance agreement, but that the agency’s insurance provider must complete a review of the matter.
Glover ran the AHA from 1994 to 2013 when Reed pushed to have her removed from her job.
During her tenure, Glover created the Atlanta model for affordable housing that brought an end to failing and dangerous housing projects and replaced them with private-sector developed mixed-use, mixed-income housing.
That model has been adopted in cities across the country.
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