Lawsuit Dropped Against VHCA Board Member

As previously reported, VHCA Board Member and Planning Committee co-Chair Winnie Currie was sued in December 1999 in Fulton County Superior Court by various owners of The Dark Horse Tavern, Neighbor’s Pub and the Urban Market, including Douglas F. Landau. The lawsuit claimed that Ms. Currie made “false and disparaging statements about Mr. Landau and/or Mr. Landau’s Companies” that constituted libel and slander when she sent letters to the City of Atlanta police and zoning officials questioning compliance with the city’s alcoholic beverage and zoning ordinances. The lawsuit sought an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages, costs and attorneys fees. The VHCA has fully supported Winnie and has paid a portion of her legal fees to help defend her against these unfounded claims, and Winnie convinced her homeowners insurer to absorb the balance of the costs. A copy of the complaint is on the VHCA website at https://vahi.org/about.htm .

Winnie Currie has raised a family of five and lived in Virginia-Highland since 1969 and she has been a board member of the VHCA since 1993. For years, Winnie has served as the VHCA’s watchdog for parking and zoning issues, and has served the neighborhood very well to help balance the interests of the commercial establishments we enjoy against the quality of life we demand in our neighborhood. Winnie was instrumental in protecting the neighborhood against the Cotton Club, the Colgate Mattress Company Warehouse mega entertainment complex on Ponce Place, and in pressuring the City to enforce City ordinances applicable to the building formerly known as “the Alley” on North Highland. She has also represented the neighborhood’s interests in countless other zoning, parking and alcohol license issues that don’t make the headlines but have a direct impact on our quality of life. As a result of her efforts, she is not always popular with commercial establishments in the neighborhood. Restaurant and bar owners have occasionally sought to quiet her to avoid questions about their compliance with parking and zoning requirements that cost them money but protect our quality of life.

In November 2000, Winnie’s homeowner insurance carrier, which has footed a significant portion of Winnie’s legal expenses, informed Winnie that it had agreed to settle the lawsuit by paying $20,000 to the plaintiffs. Although Winnie and the VHCA feel that Winnie would have been fully vindicated in a trial, the legal costs of continuing the case were too burdensome to our limited budget and to her insurance carrier’s willingness to proceed. In the settlement, Winnie admitted no guilt and did not release the plaintiff’s from her claims that the suit violates the Georgia anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) laws. Over the past year, the VHCA paid $18,496 to Winnie’s lawyers to defend her case. The plaintiff’s are believed to have spent almost $100,000 pursuing their claims against Winnie.

The VHCA continues to maintain that the lawsuit against Winnie Currie was frivolous and unfounded and is proud to have supported a tireless neighborhood watchdog against a well-funded bar owner. We encourage you to share your thoughts on this case with us at any neighborhood meeting (7:30 pm, first Wednesday of every month at the Ponce Library) or by e-mail to feedback@vahi.org. We will also continue to accept donations to the VHCA to help recover the funds spent to defend against this case.

Thank you for your continued support.

Virginia-Highland Civic Association
VHCA
www.vahi.org

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Good news! re: 830 Ponce

In the bond hearing on Friday, January 26, Judge Long ruled in the Virginia-Highland Civic Association’s (VHCA) favor concerning the development of the property at 830 Ponce de Leon. After statements from both parties and testimony from the developer, she ruled that she would NOT require the VHCA to post a bond while there is a stay on the property and the VHCA appeals. The VHCA’s appeal has been transferred from the Georgia Supreme Court to the Court of Appeals. It has not been docketed yet, and there is still a stay preventing construction on the property pending the appeal hearing. We will keep you posted on further developments. Thank you to those of you who attended the hearing.

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Great news for the neighborhood–and our trees!

The Ga. Supreme Court accepted the Virginia-Highland Civic Association’s appeal concerning the removal of trees on the property on Ponce de Leon and Freedom Parkway. The court issued a stay pending the resolution of the appeal! That appeal could last about a year.

This issuance is a great interim victory and means no activity can happen at the property until the appeal is resolved.

Thank you for all your support!

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Local Business Owner Files Lawsuit Against VHCA Board Member

A lawsuit has been filed by INTOWN RESTAURANT CORP. d/b/a THE DARK HORSE TAVERN, VIRGINIA HIGHLANDS ASSOCIATES, INC. d/b/a NEIGHBOR’S PUB, URBAN MARKET, INC. and DOUGLAS F. LANDAU against VHCA board member WINNIE CURRIE. A copy of the lawsuit is available for review. The VHCA board of directors met to discuss this matter and is in full support of Ms. Currie. The VHCA will support a vigorous defense of Ms. Currie.

The defense money will come from the VHCA budget which is funded largely by Summerfest proceeds. To preserve these proceeds as much as possible we will accept donations to defray legal costs. Please send your donations to support the defense of VHCA board member Winnie Currie to:

Virginia-Highland Civic Association
P.O. Box 8401, Station F
Atlanta GA 31106

Please make checks payable to the Virginia-Highland Civic Association and indicate “Legal Fees” on the memo portion of your check.

Thank you for your support.

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