Jury: Tavern didn’t racially discriminate

The Fulton County Daily Report
September 19, 2011

A federal jury in Atlanta took just 20 minutes Friday to decide that managers of a Buckhead restaurant hadn’t discriminated against a former professional basketball player and an attorney, both African-Americans, when they were ordered to leave after refusing to surrender their seats to two white women.

“We’re obviously very pleased with the outcome,” said Atlanta attorney Simon H. Bloom, general counsel for The Tavern Corp. and CentraArchy Restaurant Management Co., the firms that own and manage the Tavern. “But it is a hollow, Pyrrhic victory because of what the family has had to go through and the money they have had to spend to defend what has now been confirmed by the system as a frivolous lawsuit.

“If a 20-minute decision after five days of testimony does not confirm what I’ve said all along—that this case has always been meritless—I do not know what does,” Bloom said.

The companies, owned by Greg Greenbaum, own and manage nearly two dozen restaurants throughout the Southeast, including three in Atlanta.

Bloom credited the defense trial team—including Greenberg Traurig attorneys Ernest L. Greer, David W. Long-Daniels (chairman of Greenberg’s labor and employment practice), and Stephanie L. Oginsky and Michael Ross of Taylor English—with winning a favorable verdict for the Tavern.

Jurors skipped lunch to deliver the quick verdict, Bloom said.

“I’ve never seen that happen in my career. It is just resounding corroboration that the suit had no merit, and the events were really not about race,” he said.

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