Examining the controversial Breland lawsuit

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Tuesday afternoon, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle commented on threats allegedly made against the city by developer Louis Breland. (WHNT News 19)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said the city will not bow to intimidation and threats, and that’s exactly what he says a local developer made recently in a deal involving high-end outdoor store Cabela’s.

Developer Louis Breland filed a lawsuit earlier this month, making allegations of illegal conduct.  The complaint does not name the city, but implies city leaders and employees took part in shady business dealings.

Mayor Battle called a news conference Tuesday afternoon to address the matter.  He says it was Breland who tried to threaten the city into benefiting him financially.

The 31 page lawsuit lists Michael Culbreath, James Packard, and two limited liability companies as the defendants. Culbreath is a former employee of Breland, Packard is another developer. The lawsuit alleges Culbreath used knowledge of trade secrets and had help from a former City of Huntsville employee to lead Cabela’s away from Madison.

Most of the allegations in this document are made against Culbreath. Former Director of Urban Development Dallas Fanning is not listed as a defendant but he’s mentioned. “To those allegations, all I can say is what I know of that city employee, ” said Mayor Battle. “I worked with him for 35 years. He’s a very honorable person, every time I worked with him through everything.

Breland alleges Fanning promised Huntsville would vacate a large piece of property next to the future Parkside development. He claims that allowed the development to expand and recruit Cabela’s away from Breland’s development in Madison. It also alleges Culbreath used the cancellation of a joint venture between Huntsville and Madison to sway Cabela’s.  The lawsuit states, “as a direct result of defendants unlawful actions, Cabela’s chose the Parkside project as the site of its first outdoor superstore in Alabama.”

“At the end of the day, this controversy is really about the route of a road, a shopping center, and a developer who didn’t get what he wanted,” said Battle.

The fact that Cabela’s is opening a store in Huntsville is the only truth we know for certain. The rest of the allegations will play out in a court of law.


  • ValerieD

    There is something fishy going on here. I would like to see Channel 19 do an investigation into this story. I think Mayor Battle is concerned that his reputation may be tainted by these allegations for him to take such extreme measures as to tape a conversation. I believe Mr. Breland can shed light on the corruption and politics that go on in this area around certain business decisions. Cabela’s was willing to move into vacant properties, but was steered away from them. I think we should find out why the city and the city council would not let them move into Madison Square Mall or the old Toys R Us building on North Parkway, but steered yet another vendor towards Bridge Street. It appears as if the city and other influential people are favoring the builders over what’s best for the community. I think utilizing vacant space is good business and prevents the city from having even more vacancies and we can repurpose and renovate old spaces. Channel 19, please investigate this thoroughly.

    • Bill

      You’ve hit the nail right on the head. Truth be known, Tommy Battle has some kind of ties to that property on Old Madison Pike. Look for John Hayes somewhere in the background.

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