For Immediate Release
Date: May 28, 2015
Savannah City Council voted unanimously today to accept the Court-appointed mediator’s proposal to settle the Whitaker Street Garage lawsuit, filed in 2008, for $16.5 million. Mayor Edna Jackson issued the following statement on today’s vote:
STATEMENT FROM MAYOR JACKSON ON SETTLEMENT
The action taken today represents Council’s acceptance of the Court-appointed mediator’s recommended settlement of a lawsuit filed in 2008 by contractor Batson-Cook and subcontractor Raito Inc. It resolves all claims resulting from construction of the underground Whitaker Street Parking Garage and Ellis Square.
It is important to remind our citizens that this project has been a tremendous success for Savannah. It doubled the amount of parking in the City Market area, created one of the most popular public spaces in our City, restored one of Savannah’s original squares, and spurred more than $100 million in private investment in the immediate area.
The lawsuit was over who should pay for extra costs that resulted during construction. We disagreed strongly with the initial jury award, which totaled nearly $20 million including interest. Thus, we were gratified with later court actions that resulted in that award being set aside and a new trial being ordered.
We must acknowledge, however, that a new trial comes with great risk, likely further appeals, and escalating legal costs.
In 2010 City Council set aside existing parking garage and meter revenue to pay these claims. No property tax dollars will be used in this settlement. Council’s action today does not affect services, and puts this case behind us so we can continue with the progress of the City.
None of us are happy with this settlement. But we believe that doing so is in the best interest of our citizens.