FARGO — The Oxbow Country Club wants a new trial after a jury ruled a former West Fargo man was defamed by false rumors he engaged in “rampant use of cocaine” at the club.
The country club, which, along with others, is a defendant in the case, filed a 41-page brief on Monday, Dec. 9, laying out why it and board member Scott Differding of Oxbow, N.D., should get a new trial against Aaron Greterman, who sued the club and its board members for defamation and slander.
“It is clear from the outcome of the trial, however, that the excessive, impassioned and prejudicial award of damages to the plaintiff is improper, and the Oxbow defendants are entitled to post-judgement relief in the form of a new trial and/or relief from the judgment on several grounds” set forth in the motion, the brief said.
The motion comes almost five months after a Cass County jury in July awarded Greterman more than $2 million in past and future damages caused by rumors claiming he used cocaine. Greterman argued the club and board members Differding, Roger Campbell of Oxbow, Bill Short of Fargo, Britton Mattson and David Campbell, both of Horace, N.D., slandered his name, ultimately resulting in the loss of his business income and other intangible damages.
The jury ruled the following percentages of fault fell on David Campbell (35%), Differding (25%), the club (20%) and Roger Campbell (10%).
Greterman, a real estate agent who now lives in Nashville, Tenn., was found to have 7% of the fault for the rumors spread about him.
The jury allocated the remaining 3% to others who are unnamed. Short and Mattson were not found liable.
Court documents noted the Campbells have settled with Greterman. But the club and Differding argue “inadmissible hearsay testimony, improper and inadmissible evidence,” “improper comments made by counsel” and “supposed ‘death threats’” were inappropriately allowed in court, according to the brief.
The defense also argued that the plaintiff referenced drug test results, despite the court’s exclusion of the results from the trial. Furthermore, they argued that allocation of fault was insufficiently supported by evidence, the brief said.
The lawsuit, filed in January 2018, stemmed from Greterman's participation in the June 16, 2017, Battle at the Bow, an annual golf tournament held at the country club. Greterman was not a member of the club, but David Campbell invited him to the tournament.
During the tournament, Greterman allegedly pulled out a bottle of “doTERRA Lime” — an essential oil that can be mixed into drinks or placed on the tongue — and mixed it into his drink, according to court documents.
Greterman said he described the product as “the best energy shot you’ve ever had, it’s like liquid cocaine.” But David Campbell claimed Greterman said it was “like cocaine, like liquid cocaine, you can snort it, you can sniff it, put into your drink, just get it in your bloodstream and it’ll give you the best rush of your life,” court documents said.
Greterman denied saying those words, according to court documents.
Attorneys for Greterman argued David Campbell and others spread false rumors that he used cocaine. He also was banned from the country club due to “improper conduct and unacceptable behavior,” the defense argued.
“Greterman engaged in other types of inappropriate behavior … including but not limited to excessive gambling, leg wrestling, insulting member wives and excessive drinking,” the defense alleged in its most recent brief.
Attorney Andrew Parker, who represents Greterman in the case, said the motion for a new trial is standard in a case with this size of a monetary award. Parker otherwise declined to comment on the matter.