Lawsuit: Leeds mayor, city admin. accused of slandering public official, local licensed contractor
LEEDS, Ala. (WBRC) - A lawsuit filed by a Leeds public official accuses Leeds Mayor David Miller and City Administrator Brad Watson of hurting their personal business. Cary Kennedy says his business was hurt because he did not agree to a request from a well-known Leeds family.
Kennedy served on the Leeds Water Works Board with Winford ‘Lee’ Barnes, Senior. The suit alleges that following Barnes’s death in 2021, Barnes’s children, Lee and Laura Barnes met with Kennedy, requesting Laura Barnes serve the remainder of her father’s board term.
“After some discussion, the conversation changed,” the lawsuit said of that meeting. “Lee Barnes [Junior] demanded that he must be appointed as co-counsel to the Leeds Water Works Board, or LWWB, “for development” and that he be paid $2,500 dollars per month salary for the proposed position. The Plaintiff informed Barnes that, as a LWWB member, he could not go along with the Barnes’ demands.”
Kennedy’s lawsuit implies his decision to not go along with the Barnes’s requests prompted retaliatory action from the mayor and city administrator, which negatively impacted his business as a licensed contractor.
The lawsuit alleges Kennedy was forced to complete construction projects in the City of Leeds that weren’t required of other builders. Among those cited:
- the requirement to obtain a building permit for any project more than $200 dollars
- forcing him to undergo the foregoing HVAC load calculations
- requirement to provide ‘ridiculously expensive drawings and/or diagrams’ on all projects within the City of Leeds
In one instance, a tree fell on a storage shed behind Kennedy’s property. According to the complaint, the Leeds Building Inspection Department said the shed couldn’t be rebuilt or repaired. Instead it must be moved five feet from the property line, a half foot from the current location due to complaints from neighbors.
The lawsuit states Kennedy obtained statements from all neighbors who confirmed they never complained to the city.
“This action by the building inspections department, at the direction of the Defendants, was intentionally designed and planned to harass, annoy, and inconvenience the Plaintiff at the Plaintiff’s expense,” the lawsuit stated. “This began a pattern wherein the building inspections department relentlessly and contiguously began to unreasonably delay and or hold the Plaintiff’s building projects within the City of Leeds.”
Miller and Watson are also accused in the suit of disparaging Kennedy’s reputation with his clients or potential clients.
“In that meeting, both Defendants Miller and Watson greatly disparaged the Plaintiff and indicated to his customers that the plaintiff is an incompetent and inexperienced builder, who has never undertaken such a large project,” the lawsuit stated. “This was done intentionally by the Defendants to try to destroy a business relationship of the Plaintiff. Unbeknownst the Defendants, the friends who accompanied the Plaintiff’s customers recorded all aspects of this meeting.”
The lawsuit also cites another job at the Leeds Masonic Lodge where Kennedy was requested to complete repairs.
“Defendant Miller told the Lodge leaders that Lee Barnes [Junior] could get them a “real contractor” to do the repairs,” the lawsuit explained. “The Lodge leaders declined Defendant Miller’s request.”
The lawsuit also adds that Kennedy was hired to do work on Miller’s home and renovations to the city jail and Magistrate’s Office.
“All of this was done to the City’s complete satisfaction,” it stated.
The City of Leeds declined to comment, citing city policy.
At the time of publication, WBRC’s attempts to reach Lee Barnes were unsuccessful.
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