City Administrator Eric Taylor said the settlement was for $85,000, but he did not have other details.
“It wasn’t our settlement. It was decided by our insurance company,” he said. “We weren’t involved in it at all. They took over when the lawsuit happened.”
Kirkendoll filed a federal lawsuit after being arrested on a disorderly conduct charge and detained for two hours in the Smyrna Jail on April 21, 2009, following a town hall meeting at the city’s community center, during which she shouted a profanity.
The agenda included Belmont Hills and Jonquil plazas, two underutilized properties on Atlanta Road with little hope for construction due to the economy.
Kirkendoll spoke to the Journal that night after a presentation by Economic Development Coordinator Andrea Hall.
“Smyrna doesn’t want to be progressive. All of these pictures and all of this stuff are B.S.,” she said at the time.
The federal lawsuit alleged violation of her free speech rights, false arrest and false imprisonment.
Taylor said he didn’t know which court or judge had jurisdiction over the lawsuit.
“I don’t know if it even got that far,” he said. “The city attorney is handling that. He is the liaison with the insurance company.”
City attorney Scott Cochran said his
involvement was minimal.
“I know that all of the defendants named were dismissed,” he said. “At the end of the day, only the arresting officer, Durrell Williams, remained.”
The settlement was not an admission of guilt on the part of the defendant, Cochran said.
“The settlement says the city denies any wrongdoing. It was for reasons unrelated to the merits of the case,” he said. “For whatever reason, the insurance company chose to settle the case and move on.”
Cochran said he was not involved in the decision-making process.
“It was a decision the insurance company made for financial reasons. We didn’t agree or disagree with it,” he said. “It’s like if you hit a deer. The insurance company makes a decision without you.”
A cost-benefit analysis was the most likely scenario, Cochran said.
“They factored in what they would spend to try the case versus settling it. Sometimes you can spend less to settle it than you can to try it and win,” he said.
Kirkendoll was not available by press time.
Mayor Max Bacon could not be reached for comment.