Citizens’ lawsuit against Lakeland dismissed as moot

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A contentious lawsuit pitting a group of Lakeland citizens against city leaders ended Friday when a Shelby County Chancery Court judge dismissed the case.

Lakeland residents Lillie and Cary Melton filed the original lawsuit in December 2017 to block a type of bond issuance that can be used without a referendum and to address alleged violations of the Tennessee Open Meetings Act. The $60 million bond would have been used to construct a new public high school without citizens’ explicit approval.

Eight other residents soon joined them in the lawsuit: James D. Abbott, Heather Long, William T. Mallard, and James L. Murray Jr., Christopher J. Smith, Melissa K. Smith, Brian Tipler and Deborah Tipler.

Chancellor Walter Evans heard testimony from both sides and dismissed the case. The city’s attorneys said the case was moot because the opportunity to use that type of bond issuance before the end of 2017 has passed, and both the city and its industrial development board had already repealed resolutions on the bond issuance.