In her Nov. 7 order, Grubbs ordered Jaraysi to pay $37,500 and Capriola to pay $10,000.
As Grubbs points out in her order, the attorneys fees are the result of “a continuous stream of litigation between these parties for many years concerning the completion or demolition of a dilapidated structure … located at 555 Commerce Avenue in Marietta.”
Grubbs writes that Jaraysi “had no justifiable issues of law or fact and brought this action completely without legal cause.” She found that although Jaraysi had entered into a covenant with the city not to sue, agreeing to a deadline to demolish or complete his half-built wedding hall, he sought to delay and amend the deadline.
“The action was substantially frivolous and substantially groundless,” she writes.
Grubbs notes that Capriola was the seventh attorney representing Jaraysi in the matter.
City attorney Doug Haynie said Jaraysi and Capriola, who have each hired their own attorneys, have 30 days to appeal the ruling to the Georgia Court of Appeals.
“If they take the appeal rights, that will delay the city being paid,” Haynie said. “If they don’t, the city would then ask both parties to write a check to the city for $47,500.”
Jaraysi did not return calls for comment.
If Jaraysi or Capriola fail to pay the city, Haynie said the city could resort to collection methods.
“I hope that never happens, but basically that means the city would have to go after assets owned by either of the parties,” he said.
The city had asked for $120,000 in attorneys fees, although Haynie seemed pleased with the ruling.
“What she did award is extremely beneficial to the city, and it is a degree of punishment to Mr. Jaraysi and his attorney,” Haynie said, noting he couldn’t recall an instance of an attorney being ordered to pay attorneys fees.
The reason for the award, Haynie said, is that, “any lawyer, when they file a lawsuit, is certifying that there is a basis for the lawsuit. (Judge Grubbs) believes there was no basis for this lawsuit whatsoever, and I believe also she considered the meeting at the Krystal restaurant, and that could have had an impact on this award against the attorney.”
Haynie is referring to the ruling Grubbs made on Aug. 6, in which she found that Capriola had violated State Bar rules by secretly meeting with Councilman Philip Goldstein at a local Krystal restaurant last fall to discuss the lawsuit without the knowledge of Haynie, Mayor Steve Tumlin and the other members of the City Council.
The Jaraysi affair dates to 2005, when the city granted him a permit to build an 8,700-square-foot wedding hall. The city halted construction on the building in December 2005 upon discovering the structure being built was 24,993 square feet.
Grubbs granted the city permission to demolish the building in July 2010 and issued a restraining order barring Jaraysi from interfering with the demolition after he failed to live up to his pledge to her to finish the building. Jaraysi appealed to the state Court of Appeals, but the appellate court sided with the city. Jaraysi then appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case.
Having struck out in Cobb Superior Court, the Georgia Court of Appeals and the Georgia Supreme Court, Jaraysi has now turned to federal court.
He filed suit against the city on Sept. 24 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia and added Chuck Clay, a former county commissioner, state senator and Georgia GOP chairman, to the complaint.
One of Clay’s firms, Brock Clay Government Affairs, has represented the Parkway Center buildings adjacent to Jaraysi’s Nazareth Plaza strip mall.
Jaraysi accuses Clay of trying to buy his property and after being turned down, threatening to “acquire the property one way or another”, that “nobody says no to him,” that “Mr. Jaraysi would be sorry” and that “he previously (was) the head of the ‘commission’ and a senatorial candidate.”
Clay rejects the accusations as false.
Haynie said the federal suit resets the litigation to the starting line.
“It’s a brand new lawsuit,” Haynie said. “It just starts all over. There’s absolutely nothing new in that lawsuit. He’s just chosen a new forum that is federal court. The city has filed an answer in the lawsuit. Chuck Clay has filed a motion to dismiss, saying there is no basis for the suit. It may be easily 12 months before that matter is heard. It’s just beginning, so that’s the frustrating part. We’re starting all over in a new court. The city will again move for attorneys fees in that case.”