JEFFERSON — Bridgetree Investments filed counterclaims in the Ashe County Clerk of Courts office Monday, Nov. 4, presenting claims of breach of contract, civil conspiracy, unjust enrichment, libel and fraud, among others, against the owners of The Hotel Tavern, according to court documents.
The filing came in response to a complaint filed by Guion & Lyle Enterprises, The Hotel Tavern’s owners, on Aug. 29, alleging that Bridgetree Investments, owned by Mark Beck, as well as Jo Ann Woodie, Billie Jo Woodie, Deborah Woodie Ellis, David Ellis, Sharon Woodie and Woodie Investments, the Old Hotel’s former owners, conducted unfair and deceptive trade practices and breached their contract, among other claims, Ashe Post & Times previously reported.
The counterclaims filed by Bridgetree present a total of 10 counts against Guion & Lyle Enterprises, as well as Andy and Pam Guion, Sherman and Beth Lyle and Robert Washburn individually as third-party defendants.
The 10 counterclaims include breach of contract, civil conspiracy, trespass, damage to property, unjust enrichment, abuse of process, libel, slander, permissive waste and fraud, according to the filing.
“We are saddened and disappointed by the claims made and look forward to legal resolution,” Guion & Lyle Enterprises said in a statement.
Falling in line with the answers filed by the Woodies one week prior on Tuesday, Oct. 29, Bridgetree claims that the alleged 2018 lease referenced in Guion & Lyle Enterprises’ initial complaint does not exist, as terms for the lease were still under negotiation at the time of the property being sold, Ashe Post & Times previously reported.
“Regarding the 2018 lease, the validity of the lease will be decided by the courts,” Guion & Lyle Enterprises.
In the initial complaint filed by Guion & Lyle Enterprises, it claims that a lease was signed in 2018 with the Woodies for another 10-year period, which also included a clause stating that the lease shall transfer to a new owner if the property were to sell.
Andy Guion then received a signature from Jo Ann Woodie on an alleged draft document of that 2018 lease while trying to refinance The Hotel Tavern, according to the initial complaint document. Guion immediately went to the Ashe County Register of Deeds after receiving the signature to attempt to record the lease, but was denied as the document was not notarized, the initial complaint said.
Bridgetree asserts in its counterclaims that Andy Guion and Robert Washburn, CEO and president of LifeStore Bank, conspired together “to concoct a scheme to dupe the widow Mrs. Jo (Ann) Woodie” into signing a draft document of the lease under the pretense that the document would be used in assisting Andy Guion with submitting a loan application at LifeStore Bank, according to the document.
“Despite the Register of Deeds’ refusal to register the fake 2018 lease, (Guion & Lyle Enterprises) still sued Bridgetree and the Woodies on the basis of this same fake lease, attaching a copy of this fraudulently obtained and unregistered document as Exhibit C to the complaint,” Bridgetree stated in its counterclaims.
Washburn provided no comment in response to the allegations.
In addition, Bridgetree and the Woodies both reference in their responses to Guion & Lyle Enterprises’ complaint N.C. General Statute § 47-18, which states that leases of land for greater than three years must be registered in the county of the leased land to be enforceable against creditors or subsequent purchasers for value, and claim that Guion & Lyle Enterprises’ allegations of breach of contract are barred under this statute as the document was never recorded in the register of deeds.
Regarding the claims of libel and slander, Bridgetree states that Guion & Lyle Enterprises caused defamatory and untrue statements to be published on webpages and social media, including The Hotel Tavern’s Facebook page and the Ashe County Chamber of Commerce’s webpage, adding that the statements led to a loss of employees for Beck, according to court documents.
Bridgetree also claims that Guion & Lyle Enterprises spoke defamatory and prejudicial words to members of the Ashe County residential and business community, harming Bridgetree and Beck’s reputation, trade and business within the community.
“When you speak the truth there is no slander,” Guion & Lyle Enterprises said in their statement, adding that the definition of slander includes “false spoken statements damaging to a person’s reputation.”
Among other counts, Bridgetree claims that the owners of The Hotel Tavern damaged the property, being the Old Hotel, by conducting unauthorized renovations, specifically noting two sets of egress stairs, which it said removed important load bearing walls and exit routes.
Bridgetree also alleged that Guion & Lyle Enterprises used false representations to conceal the reasons why they wanted a signed lease, presenting one count of fraud against them with allegations that Bridgetree was further damaged by “being forced” to defend an action “based on this fraudulent document,” referring to the 2018 lease.
“Regarding the claim that Jo Ann Woodie’s signature was fraudulently obtained, we deny the claim,” Guion & Lyle Enterprises said in their statement.
A court date for the case has not yet been decided between the two parties, Andy Guion later said. Guion & Lyle Enterprises will be seeking a motion for order to show cause and motion for contempt from the court on Monday, Nov. 18, in response to Bridgetree’s eviction of second-floor tenants of the Old Hotel due to what Mark Beck said were safety concerns.
Ashe Post & Times will continue to provide updates on this story as they are made available.