FARGO — The former West Fargo man who's suing the Oxbow Golf Club, alleging the country club and its members damaged his reputation by spreading false rumors that he engaged in "rampant" cocaine use, took the stand on Tuesday and Wednesday in the case's ongoing jury trial.
Aaron Greterman, a real estate agent, filed the suit in January 2018 against the club and its board members, Bill Short of Fargo, Britton Mattson and David Campbell, both of Horace, N.D., and Scott Differding and Roger Campbell, both of Oxbow, N.D.
Greterman, who's since moved to Nashville, Tenn., is seeking more than $50,000 in damages, alleging the defendants slandered his name by claiming he used cocaine and, by defaming him, hurt him economically, court papers show.
According to trial testimony:
Greterman said Dave Campbell invited him to participate in the club’s annual Battle at the Bow golf tournament in June 2017.
On June 16, 2017, the first day of the tournament, Greterman said at one point he ordered an alcoholic mixed drink and pulled out a bottle of a retail product called “doTERRA Lime,” described as an essential oil that can be mixed into a drink or taken as drops on the tongue.
Greterman said he mixed the essential oil into his drink, at which point Dave Campbell inquired what he was mixing.
Greterman testified he told Dave Campbell that the oil is “like the best energy shot you’ve ever had, it’s like liquid cocaine.” He said he used the product in the open and has used that kind of phrasing to explain the product before.
Greterman denied Dave Campbell’s recollection that he said the oil is “like cocaine, like liquid cocaine ... you can snort it ... you can put it in your drink” and that “it will give you the best rush.”
The defense attorneys claimed in their opening statements that Greterman pushed Dave Campbell to try the essential oil and eventually angered him. But Greterman denied those statements, adding that he doesn’t remember Dave Campbell getting angry.
“I would have been mortified if I upset Dave,” Greterman said.
Greterman also denied claims the defense made in its opening statements that he ran into the woods and got “ballistic” after taking the essential oil.
Regarding how much alcohol Greterman drank during the day, Greterman said he had a bloody mary when he arrived at the club on the morning of the tournament. He said he ordered two shots, not four as claimed by the defense, for himself and Dave Campbell but drank both shots when Dave Campbell declined.
On July 18, 2017, Greterman said he learned from a friend that he was banned from the club because of his “rampant use of cocaine.”
Greterman said he met with Short, Differding and Jay Bartley, a club member and not a defendant in this case, to find out why he was banned. He said the meeting ended when he was effectively told he was banned for doing cocaine at the club.
The defense claims neither Differding or Short brought up anything about cocaine during the meeting. When asked during cross-examination if he believes Differding and Short are lying about what they said at the meeting, Greterman said he does.
The defense argued that Greterman was banned due to his “improper conduct and unacceptable behavior” during the tournament, citing that Greterman leg-wrestled with another individual and allegedly made off-color jokes to some members.
Greterman acknowledged he leg-wrestled and that he may have made some jokes, but nothing insulting.
Greterman also denied claims the defense made that he allegedly made sexual remarks to one of the club staff members when he ordered drinks.
By August 2017, Greterman said the rumors had spread outside the club and that he tried getting help from Dave Campbell and the club to rectify the situation but said he didn’t receive any support.
Greterman also explained his financial troubles, pointing to how the rumors affected his real estate business.
Greterman said his commission for the last five months of 2017 was about $32,000 and his commission for the entirety of 2018 was about $66,000. Between 2012 and 2015, his annual commission was above $200,000.
Greterman said the rumors and the situation he was placed in have been hard on him and his family. “You start to feel depressed, you start to feel fear," he said. "It's awful."
Greterman’s attorney, Andrew Parker, rested his case on Wednesday afternoon, and the defense began questioning the first of its witnesses. The trial is slated to last until Friday.