City says that no evidence destroyed and all relevant documents given to plaintiffs' attorneys

City claims no destruction of evidence in Atlanta Eagle case

The city of Atlanta responded late Friday to allegations it has covered up and even destroyed evidence in the Atlanta Eagle federal civil suit by denying the charges and stating it has provided all the relevant documents to the plaintiffs’ attorneys.

In a 42-page filing, the city defends its handling of providing requested information — including emails, text messages and other documents — to the plaintiffs’ attorneys that include Dan Grossman, Lambda Legal and the Southern Center for Human Rights.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys accused the city of purposefully withholding and destroying evidence in the Atlanta Eagle case that claims the city violated the patrons of the gay bar when it was raided by the Atlanta Police Department on Sept. 10, 2009.

“The defendants first respond to the plaintiff’s motion to compel by stating that despite the protestations and overwrought demands, that all of the reasonably relevant documents to which the plaintiffs would be entitled … have been produced or offered for production,” the city’s motion states.

The city’s filing comes a day after Mayor Kasim Reed addressed the Atlanta Executive Network, a gay business organization, and in a frank discussion with attendees promised an investigation into the allegations of destruction of evidence and that if the allegations were true punishment would be swift. Reed also said at the AEN meeting that he would make an important announcement concerning the Atlanta Eagle raid within a week.

The city also addresses the 55-page motion filed by the plaintiffs on Oct. 7 by stating the requests made are “unwarranted and unnecessary.”

“In this motion, Plaintiffs request that Defendants be compelled to file responses to plaintiffs’ various requests for document production and request for interrogatories. The motion follows a complex format stating that defendants have failed to preserve evidence, failed to search for responsive items and failed to comply with the court’s orders.

“While plaintiffs’ motion is impressively thick and filled with attachments, it does not place the factual content and the subject discovery requests in their full context,” according to court documents. “An examination of the circumstances surrounding the motion demonstrates that plaintiffs’ motion and the relief sought is unwarranted and unnecessary.”

The city goes on to acknowledge to discovery process — of providing the information requested by the plaintiffs — has not gone as smoothly as either side would like. Part of the reason, the city states, is that new attorneys have been assigned to the case since it was originally filed in November 2009.

“Despite the strident protestations of plaintiffs’ counsel, the defendants in this matter have not engaged in any willful conduct that would justify the relief requested,” according to court documents.