In August, three new plaintiffs joined a libel suit in Washington County Circuit Court originally filed against ABPG, its Northwest Arkansas Business Journal and three employees by Mel Robinson, a trustee of the Genesis Trust, which was Golf/Sienna's largest shareholder.
Joining Robinson were Jim Bolt, chief operating officer of Golf/Sienna; Tim Brooker, former president, CEO and chairman of Golf/Sienna; and Charles Rusk, a former trustee of Genesis Trust. All are represented by Golf/Sienna's general counsel, John Dodge.
Like Robinson, the three new plaintiffs allege that they were libeled and defamed by a series of articles on Golf/Sienna and its relationship with Genesis Trust that appeared in the Business Journal, Arkansas Business and Arkansasbusiness.com beginning in August 2002.
Together, the four plaintiffs are seeking $30 million in damages.
Uh, ABPG has denied any wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, in Federal Court
After Robinson lost a motion for a temporary injunction against ABPG in April, Bolt, Dodge and someone called Juan Gomez filed papers of incorporation with the Arkansas Secretary of State's office for companies they called Arkansas Business Publishing Group Inc., Arkansas Business Journal Inc. and Northwest Arkansas Business Journal Inc.
Then Dodge wrote letters to ABPG's Internet service providers demanding that all references to ABPG, Northwest Arkansas Business Journal, etc., be removed from the Web.
Arkansas Business LP, the partnership that operates ABPG, responded with a federal lawsuit alleging trademark infringement, interference with business and other stuff. Dodge promptly filed a counterclaim alleging, among other things, that Jeff Hankins perjured himself when he testified in the Washington County case that he was president and publisher of Arkansas Business Publishing Group because that isn't the company's incorporated name.
Last week, U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Eisele took the unusual step of ordering Dodge to amend his countercomplaint by removing all references to the perjury allegation. Eisele wrote in his order that "there appears to be an explanation for the testimony which would render it truthful."
The question of Juan Gomez's identity has not been settled. But since he is listed as the registered agent for Bolt's the newly incorporated businesses, Eisele wrote, "Surely, some or all of the Defendants will be able to provide some information as to Mr. Gomez in their upcoming depositions. The court specifically finds that this is a valid subject of inquiry."