Homeless Task Force Case Heads to Trial October 17, as Settlement Status Unclear
(APN) ATLANTA — After six years of litigation, the lawsuit of the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, versus the multiple defendants who appear to have engaged in a tortious conspiracy to sabotage what is the largest homeless shelter in the Southeast U.S., is barreling towards trial, according to court documents obtained by Atlanta Progressive News.
Defendants include Central Atlanta Progress, the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, Emmanuel Fialkow, the Benevolent Community Investment Company, and Premium Funding Solutions. A separate action against Emory University is in DeKalb County Superior Court.
On August 19, 2016, Fulton County Superior Court Judge set a trial order scheduling the trial for October 17, 2016. Previously, the case had been scheduled for trial approximately two weeks earlier.
APN previously reported that settlement talks had appeared to make some progress between the parties, and that according to sources, the Task Force had already advised the several hundred homeless men who reside there that the shelter may close by the end of November 2016. This possible closure would be in connection with the possible settlement.
A video by “Grind Media” interviewing a man currently experiencing homelessness who currently resides at the Task Force, confirms the information: that Atlanta’s homeless community is uncertain about their future.
However, Task Force Executive Director Anita Beaty tells APN that no settlement has been finalized and she is unable to discuss the matter.
Even as settlement talks apparently continue between the parties, nothing has been finalized, and a number of pre-trial deadlines have already passed, with another pre-trial deadline scheduled for tomorrow, September 14.
This means that the Task Force and the Defendants continue to expend considerable resources preparing for trial, and as they do so, they continue to decrease further and further the benefits of settling, in terms of savings of time and money.
For example, Motions in limine (pre-trial motions, often regarding the admissibility of evidence that is anticipated to be presented) were due on August 19, 2016.
A final draft of the jury questionnaire was due on August 29.
The jury clerk has been ordered to request three hundred potential jurors, from which twelve jurors and six alternatives will be selected.
In addition, there have been a number of deadlines that have already passed related to a pending motions – one motion for summary judgment, one motion to dismiss, and one motion to strike.
Tomorrow, September 14, 300 copy sets of the final jury questionnaire are due to the jury clerk.
Friday, September 16, the jury questionnaire will be presented to jurors.
Also, this Friday, a hearing on pending motions in limine appears to be scheduled for Courtroom 5E, Fulton County Superior Courthouse, at 2 p.m.
The trial is scheduled to begin on October 17, 2016, at 10 a.m., also in Courtroom 5E.
CAP and the other defendants, as previously reported by APN, conspired along with the City of Atlanta to sabotage the shelter’s operations over a period of several years.
The Task Force has been in litigation for several years regarding its tort claims, as well as its related dispute over who owns title to the building.
In November 2015, the Supreme Court of Georgia upheld a Fulton County Superior Court ruling that found that the Task Force had viable claims for a jury to consider, including its tort claims and claims regarding title of the building.
It is not clear how the City would make up for the loss of permanent shelter beds, if the shelter were to close; presumably they won’t. Councilman Kwanza Hall (District 2) told APN he and others are researching the answer to that question – although ten years to research this question has not resulted in alternative, permanent beds.
Nor is it clear where the Task Force would move to, even if they did receive a large cash settlement.
Currently, the City of Atlanta is trying to place a much smaller shelter in Atlanta’s Pittsburgh neighborhood, and many residents are saying they do not want a shelter in their community.
If the Task Force won their trial, not only would they be able to stay in their building, but they could possibly win a settlement in, at least, the tens of millions of dollars.