Examining the controversial Breland lawsuit


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

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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.

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