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Bowers Refiles Lawsuit Against Wilder, City

A month after $205 million suit was dismissed, minority contractor amends claims.

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A month after a judge dismissed his $205 million lawsuit against former Mayor L. Douglas Wilder, minority contractor Al Bowers has amended it.

Bowers, who charges that Wilder and his staff conspired against him by having him removed from the $110 million Miller & Rhoads hotel and condo project in 2006, has tweaked the suit and now asks for $75 million in damages.

In the amended complaint filed last week, Bowers' lawyers attempt to address a key point that led a Richmond Circuit Court judge to dismiss the original suit, filed in September 2007.

Judge Melvin R. Hughes Jr. ruled in part on July 23 that Bowers' attorneys had failed to distinguish in their allegations whether Wilder was acting in his capacity as mayor, making him immune, or in his personal capacity. In the amended complaint, Bowers' attorneys charge that Wilder acted both in his capacity as an individual citizen and “ultra vires,” or beyond his capacity as mayor.

A hearing for the amended lawsuit hadn't been set. The new suit represents what appears to be a last-ditch effort in an ongoing feud between Wilder and Bowers over the Miller & Rhoads project. Bowers says Wilder and his staff went so far as to contact the project's developer, and other companies and local governments in Central Virginia, and warning them that hiring Bowers' consulting and construction businesses would lead to “problems with the Mayor's office.”

At Wilder's direction, the lead developer for the Miller & Rhoads project, New Orleans-based HRI Properties, promptly dismissed Bowers and his companies from the project.

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