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A Fulton County judge has ordered prominent trial lawyer Willie E. Gary to pay his former paramour $6 million in child support payments. Gary, who claimed in court papers to have a net worth of $60 million, had former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell by his side through most of the depositions and March’s trial. Although Gary’s law practice is based in Florida, he is known in Georgia law circles for his representation of race discrimination plaintiffs against The Coca-Cola Co. and Centennial Olympic Park bombing victims suing Atlanta Olympic organizers. Gary’s Web site boasts of winning a $240 million verdict against The Walt Disney Co. in 2001 in an intellectual property theft case, a $139.6 million verdict against brewer Anheuser-Busch and a half-billion dollar verdict against the Loewen Group, a large Canadian funeral-home chain. The child support judgment, signed April 29 by Fulton Superior Court Judge Cynthia D. Wright, orders Gary to pay $28,000 per month — for 16 years — to an Atlanta woman who bore him twins after their brief romantic relationship five years ago. Gary agreed to pay $175,000 for “support and maintenance of the children” and for a down payment on a home in Georgia for the mother and twins. He is also obligated to pay for the children’s medical, dental and hospitalization insurance, maintain life insurance and prepay college tuition for the twins. The total amount of Gary’s obligations is about $6 million, according to Jay D. Bennett, a partner at Alston & Bird, who initially handled the case for the plaintiff and drafted the settlement agreement later adopted by Wright. The agreement also calls for Gary to pay $30,000 to Alston & Bird to cover attorney fees. Gary wanted to pay only $5,000 per month, according to Wright’s order. She noted that Gary had argued that the twins’ mother, Diana Gowins, misspent the child support money he already had given her to further “her lifestyle and questionable investments.” Gary, who is married, has acknowledged paternity of the twins, according to Wright’s order. He has four other adult children with his wife, Gloria Gary, according to his Web site. Gowins met Gary while she was training for the 2000 Olympic Games heptathlon, said her attorney, Robert A. Moss of Moss & Rothenberg. Moss, who noted Campbell’s presence during the case, said Gowins had sought out Gary as a sponsor. Gowins has been a stay-at-home mother since giving birth to the twins in November 2000, Moss said. “Obviously we both feel great about the judgment and about the judge’s understanding of the issues,” Moss said. Neither Gary nor Campbell could be reached at their firm, Gary, Williams, Parenti, Finney, Lewis, McManus, Watson & Sperando in Stuart, Fla. Kenneth H. Schatten, the Atlanta lawyer who represented Gary, declined to discuss the case. “It’s too premature to comment,” said Schatten, a partner at Lenner, Schatten & Behrman. “But we right now are exploring our options.” Gary and Gowins initially attempted to resolve their differences out of the public eye. An agreement was reached in July 2002, and the couple sought to have it enforced in Walker County. Walker Superior Court Chief Judge Jon B. Wood entered a final judgment on Nov. 4, 2003, finding the settlement agreement enforceable. But he later set aside the ruling, saying his court had no jurisdiction over the parties because neither one ever lived in Walker County. “The parties admitted that the filing in Walker County was an attempt to avoid publicity to Mr. Gary,” Wright wrote. The dispute before Wright involved Gary’s contention that the settlement agreement originally called on him to pay $14,000 per month, not $14,000 per child per month. Later, he asked Wright to reduce the monthly figure to $5,000 per month, according to the order. Gary also said the language concerning $14,000 per month per child in the settlement agreement had been a “mutual mistake of fact.” But Wright said she found that Gary did not carry his burden of “proving that both parties intended a total support amount of $14,000.” Wright went on: “Although Mr. Gary may have thought the settlement agreement was to be $14,000 per month total child support, such was a unilateral mistake based upon his negligence in failing to read the final or even a draft version.” Wright also denied Gary’s request that the case be sealed. The case is Gowins v. Gary, No. 2004CV88406. (Fult. Super. filed July 15, 2004). Wright’s order noted that Gary claims a net worth of more than $60 million and his income tax returns for the years 2000-2002 showed total income of $9.7 million, $28.5 million and $17.2 million, respectively. Although not mentioned in the order, Gary boasts on his firm’s Web site of having been profiled on “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous.” He also owns a custom-designed Boeing 737 nicknamed “Wings of Justice II.” According to court documents, Gary said he lived in a 25,000-square-foot home worth $5.4 million with four Bentleys, a Rolls Royce and a Lexus truck parked in the garage. His Boeing 737 has an operating cost of $150,000 per month. He also estimated his stake in his firm to be worth $20 million. Gary is chairman of the Atlanta-based Black Family Channel, which, according to his Web site, is “the nation’s only African-American owned and operated 24-hour cable channel devoted to wholesome ‘family values’ programming aimed at urban viewers.”

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