Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Attorneys for Atlanta’s first female firefighter said they would have settled her sex discrimination suit against the city for considerably less than the $1 million verdict she received. But they said the city attorney was “too busy” to return their calls. A jury on Feb. 6 awarded Atlanta Fire Lt. Liz R. Summers $1 million — $250,000 more than lawyers requested. Now, armed with that verdict, Summers, 55, is returning to court to seek the promotion she was denied two years ago, her attorneys said last week. Summers v. City of Atlanta, No. 1:01-cv-522 (N.D. Ga. Feb. 6, 2003). City Attorney Linda K. DiSantis said last week the city will appeal. A. Leroy “Lee” Parks Jr., a partner at Parks, Chesin & Walbert, and associate Alysa B. Freeman said last week that Summers is seeking promotion either to section chief in charge of investigations or section chief in charge of inspections. Two years ago, Summers outscored all fellow firefighters for the inspections post and tied with one other firefighter as the top candidate for the investigations post, Parks said. About 18 candidates, including Summers, were evaluated for a dozen open posts in 2000 by a committee appointed by Fire Chief Winston Minor. The committee was the outgrowth of a reverse discrimination suit filed by nine white fire captains in 1998, Parks said. That case eventually settled out of court, said Parks, who also represented the white captains. As a result of the litigation, the city law department developed an objective evaluation process. Parks said that Summers was the only candidate recommended by the committee for the inspections post but the chief elected to promote someone else. City attorneys, he said, had argued that Minor’s promotions were discretionary. “They were trying to avoid the idea that the chief had to pick the best qualified candidate.” Instead, city attorneys insisted that Minor “could pick the people he was most comfortable with.” Parks and Freeman said they both attempted numerous times to contact City Attorney Linda K. DiSantis, but she didn’t return their calls. Parks said Assistant City Attorney Kimberly Patrick, the lead city attorney on the case, sent him a letter that said, DiSantis “doesn’t have time to meet with you.” Parks said that the city’s only settlement offer was for $10,000 and a post as assistant chief in charge of education. On Feb. 11, Patrick referred all calls to DiSantis, who had inherited the case from her predecessor, Susan Pease Langford. DiSantis said her staff attorneys “had many conversations” with Parks about a settlement “up to the eve of trial. We never came to an agreement.” DiSantis said she wasn’t too busy to talk, but “there was nothing else for us to talk about.” A jury awarded Summers $1,010,422 — $500,000 in punitive damages, $500,000 in compensatory damages, and $10,422 in unrealized back pay. The jury specified that the punitive damages “may be awarded only against Chief Minor. They may not [jury's emphasis] be awarded against the City of Atlanta.”

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

Reprints & Licensing
Mentioned in a Law.com story?

License our industry-leading legal content to extend your thought leadership and build your brand.


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.