Atlanta developer sues law firm over ‘provably false’ charges

Credit: AJC File Photo

Credit: AJC File Photo

A prominent Atlanta developer has filed a lawsuit against a law firm representing the city of Atlanta, claiming attorneys there filed a bogus racketeering lawsuit for the purpose of harming his company.

The suit, filed Thursday by Egbert Perry against the Paul Hastings law firm and attorneys William K. Whitner and Eric D. Stolze, calls the city's action in December 2017, just weeks before Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed left office, "abusive litigation" and seeks at least $1 million in damages.

Perry claims he and his firm lost business opportunities and standing in the community as a result of the city’s claims.

The lawsuit also accuses Reed of “vitriolic disparaging communications” against Perry, on social media and through intermediaries, that were intended to harm his business and reputation.

“Reed’s stated intent to ruin the real estate business of the Plaintiffs in the City of Atlanta was willful, wanton and malicious and without justification,” the suit said.

Reed once worked for the Los Angeles-based firm, which has nearly 1,000 attorneys globally and earned $11 million from Atlanta government for a range of cases since 2010.

Perry’s suit said the allegations against him and others were “provably false” and malicious.

In a statement, Paul Hastings spokesperson Arielle Lapiano said the firm was disappointed the suit was filed.

"We are confident that the court will find that there was substantial justification for the suit against Egbert Perry and Integral Development, that we acted in good faith and that the plaintiffs’ suit has no merit," Lapiano said.

A spokesperson for the City of Atlanta declined to comment. Neither Reed nor Perry's attorney responded to phone calls seeking comment.

The city's lawsuit against Perry, Integral Development, former Atlanta Housing Authority CEO Renee Glover and others was dismissed last year after attorneys said the city's affordable housing goals would best be advanced without continuing the litigation.

The city claimed that Perry and Glover entered into a back room real estate deal that gave away a large portion of housing authority land at a steep discount. The pair have said the city misrepresented the terms of the deal.

Glover has also sued to recoup her legal fees.

In addition to this litigation, Whitner and the Paul Hastings law firm have been pulled in to an ongoing federal corruption investigation at Atlanta's City Hall. Earlier this year, the U.S. Attorney's Office sought records related to work former city attorney Cathy Hampton performed for the firm on matters where the firm billed the city.