Mayor Haddix’s libel legal bill paid for by PTC taxpayers
Peachtree City taxpayers have paid nearly $10,000 in legal fees incurred by Mayor Don Haddix last year when he was sued for writing in an email to a city employee that former Mayor Harold Logsdon “drank a lot and came to meetings part drunk.”
Logsdon filed the suit last May against Haddix personally and not in Haddix’s official capacity as mayor. A settlement was reached in December as Haddix issued an apology.
According to city documents, Haddix filed paperwork with the city’s risk management company, Georgia Interlocal Risk Management Agency (GIRMA) to be reimbursed for $9,969.40 in legal fees he incurred to handle the matter.
Because the bill is below the city’s $25,000 deductible, the city had to cut a check to the risk management company for the entire amount. So in effect, the city directly paid for Haddix’s legal bills despite the fact that he was only sued personally and not in his official capacity.
Despite that distinction, Haddix contends that because the comment was contained in an email from himself to a city employee, the city should cover the fee.
“You cannot separate me from my capacity as mayor,” Haddix said, noting that indemnification of council members is a mandated coverage per city ordinance.
GIRMA had initially denied coverage for the lawsuit at least twice while the lawsuit was pending in April and May of last year. But the company reversed course following one more plea from Haddix, through City Attorney Ted Meeker, on Feb. 29 of this year.
Since the lawsuit was resolved, Haddix said he has tried to be more cautious about the words he chooses in emails.
“We all, once in a while, phrase things poorly,” Haddix said. “We all do that.”
Citing a confidentiality agreement in the lawsuit, Logsdon said only that the reason he didn’t file suit against Haddix in his official capacity was that he didn’t want the city to foot the bill.
The settlement was not disclosed by either party in the lawsuit, but since the city ultimately paid for it to be settled, there is a question as to whether the settlement has become a public document.
The city does not have a copy of the settlement, according to City Attorney Ted Meeker.