Chef Karen Hilliard, owner of the Georgia Grille restaurant in Buckhead, has been serving Southwestern fare to Atlantans for 20 years.
Photo: Courtesy of The Reynolds Group
Photo: Courtesy of The Reynolds Group

Lawsuit: Georgia Grille owner called business associate a con man

A former business associate of Georgia Grille owner Karen Hilliard has filed a defamation lawsuit alleging she called him a con man and a thief on social media after she loaned him $80,000 — he says the funds were for business-related expenses — and didn’t pay her back.

Charles Lively, in the lawsuit filed in Fulton County Superior Court last week, says Hilliard posted the comments on Facebook and made similar comments to food and beverage vendors, resulting in them threatening his livelihood and business reputation.

One vendor allegedly went as far as telling Lively to “pack a bag and move to the other side of the world because (he) will be out of business in the South.”

The quarrel between the two came after plans fell through to sell the Georgia Grille to Lively. In April, Hilliard announced the Buckhead eatery closed its doors for good after nearly 30 years in business.

RELATED| Georgia Grille closes after 30 years in Atlanta

Lively’s attorney did not immediately respond to phone calls and emails from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution requesting comment. Hilliard declined to comment on the case.

Lively and Hilliard discussed him purchasing the Georgia Grille in fall 2019 and exchanged financial information, proposals, and documents related to the sale of the business, but the deal was never finalized, according to the lawsuit.

During that time, Hilliard loaned Lively money for personal use and later sent a letter through her attorney demanding Lively repay her. When Lively tried to explain he used the money for business-related purposes, he was ignored, the lawsuit says.

“Lively attempted to discuss the dispute, allegations, and accounting but was advised by Hilliard’s counsel that no negotiations would happen” until Lively paid the nearly $80,000 loaned to him, the lawsuit says.

Lively is seeking a jury trial and unspecified punitive damages.

In other news:

Ronald J. Shurer II, a former Secret Service agent and retired Army staff sergeant who received the Medal of Honor in 2018, has died of lung cancer at age 41. Shurer enlisted in the Army a year after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on America, and became a senior medical sergeant.

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