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Losing Atlanta airport vendor bidder drops protest against city

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ATLANTA -

The city of Atlanta has scored a major victory in its ongoing court battle over the billion dollar airport concession bids.  The largest and last company to protest the bids has dismissed its legal action.

SSP has fought legal battle after battle with the city all year. The concessionaire's initial bid protest had made its way into the court system. Now, after lengthy settlement talks, it is over.

After months of legal battles and accusations of political cronyism, SSP has dismissed its legal action against the city.

"We knew we were correct. We know that we followed all the rules and today we are vindicated," said Atlanta city attorney Cathy Hampton.

The lawsuit followed a long and controversial bid process that determined what you eat, drink and buy at  Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Some of the biggest bid winners, who combined picked up more than a billion dollars in potential revenue, were politically connected fundraisers and friends of Mayor Kasim Reed, incuding the mayor's campaign chairman, Daniel Halpern, and Mayor Maynard Jackson's widow, Valerie.
 
SSP, a large international airport concession company challenged the bids calling them fraudulent and corrupt. A hearing officer ruled in favor of the city, finding no evidence of flaws in the system or that Mayor Reed interfered with the bid process.

SSP appealed their case in Superior Court, but, now months later, have dismissed it. In a written statement, Mayor Reed stated SSP publicly admits "no city elected official or employee acted improperly" and he is glad "to put this distraction behind us"

City Attorney Cathy Hampton says SSP's decision is vindication for the city and a great ending to a tough, year-long fight.

"It is been a long road, but we're glad that we've reached the end. And more importantly we're glad the international terminal opened in May and we've being doing great business as the gateway to the world," said Hampton.

As part of the settlement talks that lead to SSP's decision, the city returned the $272,000 bond SSP had posted when it filed its protest.  

SSP attorneys had no comment.

Click the video to watch FOX 5 Senior I-team reporter Dale Russell's story!

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