VIDEO: Cost to taxpayers for murdered stripper lawsuit reaches more than $450,000
DETROIT (WXYZ) – The lawsuit filed on behalf of the family of murdered stripper Tamara Greene is a high-profile case that has dragged on for years… but at what cost to the taxpayers?
Action News Investigator Heather Catallo has a look at how many of your tax dollars have been spent fighting the case.
The Tamara Greene case has taken some interesting twists and turns during the last four and a half years. So we wanted to know – how much has the City of Detroit spent defending themselves in this lawsuit?
“They’ve done everything possible to obstruct this investigation including paying the top dollar lawyers they could find to get in our way,” says attorney Birmingham Norman Yatooma.
Yatooma is leading the charge in the Tamara Greene lawsuit – and he says he either wants to get this case to trial or settle it – soon.
Now the Action News Investigators have learned how many tax dollars have been used to defend the City of Detroit and former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in the lawsuit that dates back to late 2005.
“I can’t imagine what they’ve spent in light of what we have spent prosecuting this case,” says Yatooma.
Tamara Greene is the exotic dancer who was murdered in 2003.
Her children are suing for millions – claiming that several high-ranking officials in the Kilpatrick administration obstructed the investigation into her shooting death.
It’s been rumored that Greene danced at a never proven Manoogian Mansion party – where the former mayor’s wife, Carlita, allegedly assaulted the stripper.
So how much has the defense of the original 7 people named in the lawsuit cost the residents of Detroit?
The head of the Detroit Law Department claims that very little happened in the case for the first 2 years – so they did not spend very much during that time.
The city hired outside counsel for two of the key defendants.
Plunkett & Cooney represented former Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings. Records obtained by Action News show that the law firm billed Detroit $152,518.41 for work dating back to April of 2008. Only $79,444.39 of that has been paid.
Veteran attorney Mayer Morganroth was brought in to defend Kilpatrick’s former Chief of Staff, Christine Beatty.
Records show Morganroth billed the city more than $276,237.72 for legal fees. He’s received $130,288.15.
Defense attorney Jim Thomas represents Kwame Kilpatrick for the Greene case. The head of the Law Department says Thomas never requested that a contract be approved through the city council – and that means the city hasn’t paid him a dime for the case.
As for the Law Department – city officials say the top lawyer assigned to the case earns a salary of $93,297… but other attorneys have worked on the lawsuit.
The head of the Law Department says on top of that, they’ve spent about $18,000 on other related things like transcripts.
Now that Yatooma has dropped all of the defendants except for the City and the former mayor – taxpayers will no longer be paying for at least 2 of the outside law firms.
But Yatooma says he doesn’t believe that Detroit has only shelled out about a half million bucks to fight the Greene case… he thinks the real number is closer to $2 Million.
“7 figures that would have been much better spent on these kids who lost their mother. Much better spent on a few cops that could actually be permitted to do their job to investigate Tammy Greene’s murder, much better spent on really anything other than lawyers who’s sole job it was to keep us finding out what happened to Tammy Greene,” says Yatooma.
The head of the City Law Department absolutely denies that they have spent anywhere close to $2 Million dollars – she says if it had cost that much they would have settled the case by now. But their costs are about to increase – because some of the major depositions in the case still haven’t taken place – and it still hasn’t gone to trial. That’s when the major expenses will really start adding up.