A woman who claims she was wrongfully arrested after refusing to join a Cobb County hotel holiday swinger sex party has pulled her $20 million lawsuit but plans to continue her legal quest to clear her name.
Since January when The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported on lawsuit, Loletha Hale Lewis has gotten a new attorney, James Howard.
One of the first things Howard did after signing on to the case a couple weeks ago was pull the initial suit.
“I think some things need to be resolved before it’s litigated,” he said.
Howard doesn’t plan to settle the case before trial; he wants it before a jury.
The suit asked for $10 million from Marriott International, Aimbridge Hospitality, Swinging Atlanta and a hotel manager working that night.
The suit also asked for a total of $10 million from the Cobb police officer who arrested her, Zachary Stannard, and police chief Mike Register, even though Register was not with the department at the time.
Lewis was convicted of obstruction of justice, a charge the lawsuit said she is appealing.
She claims that while heading to her hotel room on Dec. 30, 2016, a man asked her if she was with the swingers group there. She said she wasn’t and went to her room.
Swinging Atlanta’s website says that 500 people usually attend and sell out a hotel for the party, which starts in a ballroom before moving to “three private floors.” Swinging Atlanta has held the event 11 times.
Lewis later saw the man, whom the lawsuit says was with Swinging Atlanta, at a registration table saying she had to “register and pay” to stay on the floor. He threatened to have her removed from her room.
The lawsuit said she brushed him off and went into her room to shower.
She came out of the bathroom to find two hotel security guards in her room “staring at her as she stood naked,” according to the suit. She tried to cover her body and shooed them away.
Jeff Flaherty, a Marriott spokesman, said in January that the hotel chain does not comment on pending litigation. Aimbridge and Swinging Atlanta did not respond to multiple requests for comment at the time and still have not responded.
Howard said he was hired because he is trying a similar case against Marriott in Fulton County court.
That case involves a woman at a Marriott being, in the attorney’s opinion, wrongfully arrested. Hotel management thought she hadn’t paid for her room and security also came into her room as she got out of the shower, Howard said.
“We think some of the same policies might have made these events happen,” he said.
The statue of limitations runs out at the end of the year for Lewis and Howard plans to refile the lawsuit before then.
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