Citizens move to intervene in Safer Human Medicine suit against Development Authority

Published 9:15 am Wednesday, May 1, 2024

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The legal battles over the proposed Bainbridge primate facility continue. There have been some new developments as of late, one being a motion filed by citizens to intervene in the suit between Safer Human Medicine and the Bainbridge-Decatur County Development Authority.

The citizens, consisting of June Faircloth, Chad Dollar, Lisa Dasilva, and Kristina Martin, are already engaged in a lawsuit against the City of Bainbridge, the Decatur County Commissioners, the Decatur County Board of Education, and the Decatur County Board of Tax Assessors, in which they contend the government organizations did not properly follow the Open Meetings Act. Safer Human Medicine filed a motion to intervene as an interested party in that suit back in March, arguing that the suit would “torpedo” Project Liberty, defending the bond agreements of Project Liberty, and contending that the lawsuit is “collusive”, based on the County and Tax Board’s responses.

Responding to a request for comment, a representative of Safer Human Medicine stated, about the motion to intervene, “ We were not named as a defendant and want to make sure we can assert our legal rights in this proceeding.”

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Now, the citizens are moving to intervene in the suit between Safer Human Medicine and the Development Authority on similar grounds, arguing that the nature of that lawsuit is collusive.

“Safer Human Medicine, Inc. (‘SHM’) commenced this action against one defendant, the Decatur County-Bainbridge Industrial Development Authority (the ‘Authority’), in a collusive action to obtain a consent judgment to pave the way for a 30,000-primate breeding facility that will be located adjacent to residential and agricultural properties in the Residents’ community,” the court documents read. “The development project, known as ‘Project Liberty,’ was approved in secret by various representatives of local governments and the Authority, without input or approval of the taxpayers who would bear the risk and pay the cost of the project. Now faced with public opposition, and with litigation pending in other courts, SHM and the Authority are colluding to obtain an order from this Court blessing Project Liberty.”

The citizens contend that the suit is deliberately against the Development Authority only, intentionally omitting both the citizens and the other local government bodies, “thus again denying the Court the opportunity to hear from all parties in interest.”

The Development Authority filed its response to the citizen’s motion to intervene on Monday, stating that they do not object to the residents intervening. In this response, the Authority reiterates its prior decisions to revoke its approval of the bond resolution and attempts to withdraw from the agreements. The response says in closing, “This Defendant’s election not to object should not be taken by the court, or anyone else reading this filing, as any form of collusion with residents, or acquiescence with residents’ substantive position, but rather is merely a part of the litigation process trying to bring this matter to a conclusion as efficiently as possible so all pending legal matters related to this defendant can be resolved.”

The Post-Searchlight will provide further updates on these cases as they become available.