published Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Trial reset for case where developer alleges partner secretly conspired to sabotage project

A planned four-week trial set to start today in Hamilton County Circuit Court was declared a mistrial and reset for next week after multiple juror problems.

The trial involved a $35 million lawsuit pitting land development companies Canyon Ridge Resorts, Singing Sisters Falls and Scenic Land Company against local private brokerage firm Sterne, Agee and Leach was filed in 2011 after a proposed $100 million Lookout Mountain development fell apart the previous year.

Canyon Ridge's Duane Horton alleges in court documents that his then partner Randy Baker secretly conspired with Sterne Agee to sabotage the project and put in place their own development at the same site with the same architects while Sterne Agee was working as Canyon Ridge's investment brokers.

Horton claims that the alleged actions of Baker and the investment firm cost the developers as much as $35 million in damages.

Hamilton County Circuit Court Judge Neil Thomas III declared a mistrial Wednesday morning after spending Tuesday working through a pool of 96 jurors. Twenty-six of those called said they could serve the length of the trial without hardship.

After attorney challenges limited the pool to 12 there were no further alternates, triggering the mistrial.

Thomas and the attorneys will begin again with new jury panels on April 8 and likely begin the trial the following day, according to court officials.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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