McFeely: Oxbow says banned golfer referred to substance as ‘liquid cocaine’
Oxbow Country Club and several individuals are punching back at a golfer who says his reputation and income have been badly damaged by allegations of drug use directed at him by members of the private course.
Court papers filed on behalf of Oxbow in Cass County District Court paint West Fargo real estate agent Aaron Greterman to look more like Rodney Dangerfield’s character in the movie “Caddyshack,” the boorish Al Czervik, than an innocent golfer wronged.
Whether that will be enough to overcome claims of slander leveled by Greterman won’t be known until the case goes to trial.
Greterman filed a lawsuit against Oxbow in January, saying members and members of the club’s board falsely accused him of “rampant use of cocaine” during a tournament last summer. Greterman said he was told he was banned from the club because of his alleged drug use. Court papers claim the allegations spread throughout the Fargo-Moorhead area, reaching among others his boss and clients, causing a loss of business.
“This was the reputational assassination of Aaron Greterman,” Greterman’s lawyer, Andrew Parker of Minneapolis, said on my 970 WDAY radio show.
Oxbow tells a different story. Court documents call Greterman’s claims unfounded and say he was barred from the club because he acted “very obnoxiously, improperly and inappropriately” at the club’s annual member-guest tournament in June.
Oxbow member David Campbell, Greterman’s playing partner in the tournament and one of the defendants named in the lawsuit, says Greterman was using a substance Greterman said had the effect of “liquid cocaine.” Campbell says he quit playing the final holes of the tournament and didn’t return for a second day of competition because he was tired of dealing with Greterman’s “obnoxious conduct.”
Greterman said he was told Campbell didn’t show up the second day because he offered Campbell cocaine and that Greterman was “doing cocaine on the golf cart.” Greterman denies the accusations.
Instead, Greterman said he used a small amount of a retail product called “doTERRA Lime,” an essential oil made from the peel of fresh limes that can be taken under the tongue or mixed in a drink. Greterman said he told Campbell the oil was like an energy shot.
Documents filed on behalf of Oxbow, Campbell, board member Bill Short, board member Britton Mattson and two unnamed board members say the club was justified in banning Greterman because of his behavior.
They say Greterman’s conduct included, but was not limited to, insulting other men’s wives at social functions during the event and saying to “many married women, words to the effect of, ‘what are you doing with this loser?’”
The documents say Greterman wanted to arm, wrist and leg wrestle with many people at social events and that he acted obnoxiously in an “inebriated or intoxicated manner” to the extent that his wife “was shamed and embarrassed.”
They also accuse Greterman of charging excessive amounts of alcohol and other items on Campbell’s tab during both days of the event. The defendants claim Greterman lost so much money gambling at the event that “he practically begged an Oxbow member to lend him $7,000 to pay off his debt.”
Mattson denies he spoke openly or otherwise about Greterman being banned from Oxbow because of cocaine use. Campbell said Greterman’s behavior suggested he “was intoxicated and/or subject to the effects of some kind of drug.” Campbell said Greterman repeatedly urged him to take an unknown substance Greterman stated was “just like cocaine” or was like “liquid cocaine.”
Greterman’s attorney said his client took two drug tests that were negative.
“He never used cocaine at all at Oxbow or anyplace else,” Parker said. “There will be no question that he did not use cocaine.”
Parker said Greterman specializes in high-end homes and an agent’s reputation is particularly important in that market.
“That has been completely decimated by the Oxbow Country Club,” he said. “People have indicated that until this gets cleared up, they are not going to do business with him.”
Greterman’s lawsuit seeks unspecified damages of more than $50,000.
“Certainly it is far in excess of that in terms of the damage he is sustaining as a result of these false accusations against him,” Parker said. “And the damages are mounting.”