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Federal judge drops lawsuit against City of Warner Robins

Judge Marc T. Treadwell dismissed the federal lawsuit with prejudice, but the case is still pending in Houston County Superior Court.

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — A federal judge has ended a $10 million lawsuit against the City of Warner Robins.

On May 2nd, United States District Court Chief Judge Marc T. Treadwell dismissed the case with prejudice. That means the case is closed and can't be refiled.

Two years ago, two companies sued the City of Warner Robins for $10-million.

A2D, an Atlanta based fiber optic company, and a second company eCBI Warner, LLC., claimed Mayor Randy Toms denied them access to their fiber lines. They blamed racial discrimination.

The original suit alleged Toms was biased against "minority-owned businesses." They claimed Toms and other city employees and councilmen tried to steer business away from them.

Toms, of course, left office last year.

In January, Toms and the other defendants asked the judge to dismiss the complaint.

Attorney Matthew H. Bennett represented Toms and other city officials, his response filed earlier this year, said A2D's case was just a simple contract dispute. He wrote Toms was not personally responsible for the company's problems with the city. Bennett also argued the racial allegations were "nothing more than a red herring, being used to air personal grievances."

But the company did not respond to Bennett's filing, so Judge Treadwell dismissed the case on the 2nd.

Thursday city officials referred 13WMAZ's questions to their "outside legal counsel" Attorney Stewart Duggan.

Duggan would not speak to 13WMAZ on camera, but he told us by phone: "The City of Warner Robins always contended that the federal claims were frivolous, that they were contrived and made up; and that they had absolutely no merit. The allegations of racism were completely unfounded."

He said the federal judge's decision confirms that.

Duggan also told 13WMAZ, "The plaintiffs, in an effort to try to avoid costs and attorney fees, in our opinion, went ahead and quickly dismissed the entire case with prejudice. Just as we told them they would and just as we warned them they would, when the lawsuit was initially filed. We believe what the plaintiff's have done was fraudulent and misleading; and we believe the facts and evidence will ultimately show that."

Now, a different version of that lawsuit is still pending in the Houston County Superior Court. But Duggan believes they will also win that case. They're currently in the discovery phase of the case.

Duggan also told 13WMAZ, "The City of Warner Robins is now in the process of filing a motion with federal court, seeking sanctions and attorney fees against both plaintiff’s lawyers; and each of these plaintiffs both corporately and in their individual capacities. We believe that the plaintiff's filed suit and fraudulent and baseless suits against the city, in an effort to divert attention away from their obligations that they owe to DLI Investments and others.”

Warner Robins' Mayor LaRhonda Patrick sent 13WMAZ a statement, which reads in part: "The court ruling today was a win for the city. Now that the federal case is behind us, we can rightly focus our efforts on plans to grow the technological infrastructure of our city to benefit all citizens and truly become a smart city. This case was inherited by my administration, so I have no personal involvement. I rely on the legal system and due process to adequately resolve these issues. I am happy that as a city we can move forward and focus on making our city better for our residents and businesses."

We also reached out to A2D and former Mayor Toms, but they declined comment.