Federal Jury: Jackson Must Pay $600K to Developer | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Federal Jury: Jackson Must Pay $600K to Developer

A federal jury awarded a Jackson developer $600,000 from the City of Jackson following a jury trial this afternoon.

U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola presided over the jury trial, which began Sept. 29 and concluded today.

In 2012, Don Hewitt of Advanced Technology Building Solutions filed a civil-rights lawsuit against the city, then-mayor Harvey Johnson, the Jackson Redevelopment Authority and JRA officials for what he characterized as violating "the natural right of a person to do business" by blocking his attempts to develop three real estate projects in Jackson—most notably the Deposit Guarantee Building, now known as the Regions Building.

Furthermore, Hewitt, who is black, claimed that Johnson blocked economic development projects to which he personally objected, which represented a violation of Hewitt's due process rights. Another part of his suit alleged that two white members of JRA "acted in conspiracy with racial animus" to deprive his company of opportunities.

Judge Guirola dismissed the claims against JRA and its officials—including former Commissioner Brian Fenelon and current Commissioners Beau Whittington and Bishop Ronnie Crudup and former executive director Jason Brookins—with prejudice.

Guirola ordered Hewitt to recover $600,000 plus costs and 1 percent interest. JRA and its officials must pay their own costs, the judge ruled.

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socratesgarrett 7 years ago

Tortious interference, also known as intentional interference with contractual relations, in the common law of torts, occurs when a person intentionally damages the plaintiffs contractual or other business relationships.


Turtleread 7 years ago

I don't get it. Why would the then mayor interfere with the development of a downtown bank building? What was in it for him? And why was it a civil rights violation? Honestly, I hope we are all done with that nonsense now.


msnative1943 7 years ago

I was just saw the only reason there wasn't also a verdict against the JRA is that they settled before the trial. That explains a lot, but also opens up a lot more questions. What did they settle for? Who paid the money? Who was responsible? Is this another Zach Taylor screw up or just trick for him to hide from public scrutiny.


JLucas 7 years ago

Why is it that lately every time JRA's name pops up the City of Jackson is having to cough up money?


marymary 7 years ago

I've asked that question before. According to another news report, the JRA settled before the trial. I guess you have to add that amount, whatever it might be, to the $600,000.

If you add all of those costs, plus legal fees, plus the HUD suspension on the Farish Street project, you're looking at millions of dollars that the JRA/City has had to cough up just to cover "legal" mistakes. In the meantime, we've lost more development opportunities, lost more friends in the Jackson community and look like incompetent and mean-spirited fools. It's just plain awful. This is what D.A. Robert Smith and State Auditor Stacey Pickering ought to be looking into, an abuse of power by the people who've been running and ruining the JRA.

It's time to get rid of the lawyers and the JRA board members and start over. There needs to be some accountability for this waste of public dollars. This is not funny.

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