Duxbury selectmen voted unanimously this week to appeal the Middlesex Superior Court decision that awarded North Hill Country Club manager Johnson Golf Management at total of $839,806 in attorney’s fees, damages, lost profits and interest.
Selectmen met behind closed doors Monday to discuss the latest twist in the legal case involving Johnson Golf Management, the former operator of the public nine-hole golf course, which sued the town in 2008 after the town awarded a new contract to a different management company.
In April, Middlesex Superior Court jury awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars to Johnson Golf, after finding that the town violated the state law that regulates how municipalities award contracts and the state consumer protection act when it passed over Johnson and awarded the North Hill contract to Calm Golf of Rockland.
Last week, Middlesex Superior Court Justice Kenneth Desmond entered a final judgment in that case in favor of Johnson Golf Management for $839,806.48, including $325,000 in attorney’s fees, a decision that came after the town had made three arguments for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict to alter the final judgment amount. That number is slightly reduced from the $484,146.60 in attorney’s fees and costs the plaintiff originally requested from the court.
After their executive session, selectmen reconvened their meeting in open session and announced their decision to appeal the judgment. Town Counsel Town Counsel Arthur Kreiger of Anderson and Kreiger of Cambridge attended the meeting.
Kreiger said that Justice Desmond “confirmed and implemented the jury verdict,” although Kreiger said the total awarded in attorney’s fees was “seriously reduced.”
Kreiger estimated that it will take between nine months to a year before the appeals court will hear the case because of the lengthy process the case must go through at the appeals court level before it can be given a date for oral arguments. Kreiger said there is also a chance that either the town or the attorneys for Johnson Golf Management will decide that they want this case heard by the Superior Judicial Court instead of the appeals court.
That timeline might be quicker, he said. The SJC might also choose to hear the case, taking it out of the realm of the appeals court.
The final figure includes $325,000 in attorney’s fees, $400,000 in punitive damages and $114,806.48 in interest on lost profits between Dec. 12, 2008 and Sept. 23, 2013 for a total of $839,806.48.
In another case involving Johnson Golf Management in the state district court, Kreiger said that Johnson Golf’s attorney’s motion for summary judgment on a counterclaim was served on Sept. 26 and a hearing is scheduled on Oct. 17. This case, he said, has been dormant for a year and a half.
Additionally, Kreiger said the town’s lawsuit against former town counsel Robert Troy is currently pending in Plymouth court. The town is suing Troy for legal malpractice while representing Duxbury in the Johnson Golf management case. Recently, the court denied Troy’s motion to remove Kreiger and insurance counsel Leonard Kesten from the case. Troy is appealing that decision and that will be argued in the appeal court in November, according to Kreiger.
Clipper staff writer Susanna Sheehan contributed to this story.