A recent lawsuit against five members of a local church ended with jurors ruling in favor of a California businessman in McDuffie County Superior Court, The McDuffie Mirror has learned.
The verdict, returned on Sept. 17 by a 12-member civil jury, was in favor of Thomas A. Derossett, Jr., whose business, Rosevine Enterprises, LLC, was listed as the plantiff in the case, according to court records viewed by the newspaper last Friday. Jurors awarded Mr. Derossett $230,710 from the local church members, as well as an additional $103,500 for attorney fees, a total of $334, 210.
Toombs Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Harold A. Hinesley officially accepted the jurors' verdict on Sept. 21.
The verdict followed two days of testimony from several witnesses that began on Sept. 16 and concluded on Sept. 17 with jurors returning their decision.
The defendants -- all members of Vine Community Church, which used to be located on property where 1810 Country Inn and Winery is off Washington Road near Thomson -- are identified as: Alton Johnson, Tim A. Brown, Lane J. McMichael, James McMichael and Harold C. Price.
Michael J. Tomerson, of Savannah, attorney for the defendants, filed a counterclaim in the case on behalf of his clients hoping to get back $10,000 from Rosevine Enterprises LLC. The defendants raised that amount of money as a down payment for property owned by the business named in the lawsuit.
"The document involved a contemplated sale and purchase of certain property, but is unenforceable because it lacks material terms and constitutes merely an agreement to agree -- not a binding agreement," Mr. Tomerson said in court documents.
Other records revealed that the $10,000 paid by the defendants was "non-refundable."
The property at 1810 Country Inn and Winery carried a selling price of $1,950,000, records reveal.