More club lawsuits filed
NEWFANE- The Hermitage Club and James Barnes are facing more than two dozen lawsuits in Vermont and Connecticut.
On April 19, NEC Financial Services added their name to the list of creditors seeking compensation for services they say were provided to the Hermitage Club, and personally guaranteed by James Barnes.
NEC Financial Services is a New Jersey-based company that provides customized financing and leasing for equipment. According to their complaint filed in Windham Superior Court, NEC provided leases for a variety of electronic equipment installed by two companies at Hermitage Club properties, including telephone systems, computer and television systems, and audio equipment.
Exhibits filed with NEC’s complaint show that there were three different lease agreements with the Hermitage. The first, signed on May 27, 2015, called for 60 monthly payments of $9,555.58. The contract and invoice list hundreds of pieces of equipment, from connectors to computer servers, installed by Valley Communications, of Chicopee, MA . The complaint claims the Hermitage is $344,795.29 in arrears on the contract.
A second contract signed on December 18, 2015, for telephone systems also installed by Valley Communications, calls for 60 monthly payments of $1,688.03. According to NEC, the Hermitage is $61,592.80 in arrears for the contract.
The third contract is for audio equipment installed by Atomic Professional Audio. The contract, signed October 31, 2016, specifies 60 payments of $5,919.74. NEC claims the Hermitage has failed to pay $275,802.72 owed on the contract.
According to NEC, “the defendant, James R. Barnes, executed and delivered a personal guaranty to the plaintiff.” NEC included a copy of the signed guaranty with the documents.
NEC is seeking a court order requiring the Hermitage and James Barnes to pay $692,208.90 past due on all three contracts. Neither the Hermitage nor Barnes have yet filed an answer to the complaint.
In Connecticut, Mark Brett, an Old Lyme, CT resident, has filed a suit in Hartford, CT, Superior Court, alleging that the Hermitage and Barnes owe him $321,094 for a real estate investment. Brett is also seeking $963,000 in punitive damages.
In an affidavit filed with his complaint, Brett claims he purchased a building lot at 12 Haystack Mountain Lane for $250,000 in August 2014. “My purchase of the building lot was specifically conditioned upon certain critical representations and promises made to me by defendant Mr. Barnes,” Brett said in the affidavit. “In order to insure my participation, he personally guaranteed my investment, agreeing that ‘if at any point you decide not to continue with the purchase of this home, I will agree to release you of the agreement and in return pay you your principal of $250k you invested … (plus) a flat fee interest of $83,333 for up to one year. If the term continues beyond one year, we would prorate the interest at $8,333/month.”
Brett says he conveyed the lot back to Barnes and the Hermitage in order to allow the sale of the property to another party in January 2016. The value of his investment at that time, according to Brett, was $374,998.
Rather than withdraw the investment, however, Brett says Barnes offered that he could reinvest the funds in the Hermitage, “and that he would personally guarantee the repayment of those funds, within 30 days of such a request being made.”
Brett says $333,333 was invested in the Hermitage and “in exchange I received a membership interest in the entity, commonly known as a ‘100 Club Membership Interest.’ The remaining balance of my building lot investment, totaling $41,665, was issued to me in the form of a credit on my house account at the Hermitage Club.”
Brett says he sought the return of his 100 Club investment in September 2016, at which time Barnes “repeatedly requested that I minimize the amount that I would accept as immediate payment due to cash flow and other circumstances being encountered by the Hermitage. On or about October 25, 2016, I was repaid $100,000 of my building lot investment.”
Brett says he made repeated requests for payment of his remaining investment, all to no avail. No answer has yet been filed by the Hermitage or Barnes.
In ongoing matters, Windham County Superior Court Judge John Treadwell has granted a motion by attorney Donald Frechette to withdraw as attorney for the Hermitage Club and James Barnes. Frechette represented the Hermitage and Barnes in several matters before the court, including a defamation suit filed against former Hermitage managing director Robert Balewicz, as well as counterclaims filed by Balewicz and former managing director Jon Santaniello alleging discrimination and a hostile work environment.
Frechette told the court that he wished to withdraw because his clients “have failed to substantially fulfill an obligation” regarding his services, and that the Hermitage and Barnes had been warned that he would withdraw if they failed to meet the obligation. A docket entry confirms that the obligation the Hermitage and Barnes failed to meet was payment of fees for Frechette’s services.
On Monday, April 30, Montpelier attorney Thomas H. Somers submitted a letter informing the court he had been retained by the Hermitage’s insurance company for “limited appearance to defend the counter claims and the third party action on behalf of the Hermitage Club, James Barnes, and (Hermitage human resources manager) Renee Mulkey.” Somers said he does not represent Barnes or the Hermitage in their complaint against Balewicz.
Barnes and the Hermitage have 30 days to find a new attorney to represent them or enter a pro se appearance in the complaint against Balewicz.