published Sunday, October 25th, 2009

Thornton sues Rarity developer over Marion County site

PDF: Rarity Club lawsuit

Chattanooga developer John "Thunder" Thornton is suing the Maryville, Tenn., developer who failed to complete Rarity Club on Nickajack Lake in Marion County, Tenn.

In a four-page lawsuit filed Friday in Marion County Chancery Court, Mr. Thornton is seeking $9.8 million, plus interest and penalties, from Rarity Communities Inc. President Michael Ross. Chattanooga attorney Bill Horton accuses Mr. Ross of "misrepresentation, fraud and negligence" for not building the promised marina, golf course and wellness center at Rarity Club.

In September, Green Bank took over most of the unsold portion of Rarity Club after Mr. Ross defaulted on more than $15 million of bank loans for the Marion County project.

Mr. Thornton agreed to sell Mr. Ross 578 acres of lakefront property in 2006 for $13 million, plus a share of future property sales. Mr. Thornton claims that Mr. Ross sold $26.5 million of property in Rarity Club but didn't finish the infrastructure to sell most of the lots in the development and repay all of his debt to Mr. Thornton.

Similar lawsuits against Mr. Ross were filed earlier this year from property owners in the development. Those cases are still pending.

Mr. Ross, who is developing a half dozen other Rarity Communities across East Tennessee, was unavailable Saturday.

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