Prebul case now in federal court in Chattanooga

Prebul case now in federal court in Chattanooga

May 30th, 2009 by Lauren Gregory in News

After being tossed into several courts from Chattanooga to New York, the dispute between local car dealer Joseph Prebul and his brother-in-law is entering yet another court.

After their unsuccessful attempts to squash a lawsuit involving Mr. Prebul in Hamilton County Circuit Court, lawyers for his brother-in-law, Danny Bensusan, have filed notice they're moving the suit to U.S. District Court in Chattanooga.

Mr. Bensusan's lead attorney, Bill Fried, could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon. But the court filing announcing the change indicated that "Removal is proper ... because this is a civil action where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75,000 and is between citizens of different states."

Mr. Prebul's attorney, Tom Ray, of Chattanooga, referred to the new development as an example of "procedural fencing."

"We believe that (Mr. Bensusan) is guilty of procedural fencing by initiating a suit in Hamilton County Circuit Court, trying to drop that case, then filing a suit in New York District Court and then trying to remove the Hamilton County Circuit Court case to U.S. District Court in Chattanooga," Mr. Ray said Friday.

Mr. Ray and attorney Chris Varner, who represents some of Mr. Prebul's business entities, are trying to undercut Mr. Bensusan's efforts by pointing to technical legal violations. Mr. Varner, who declined comment on the case when contacted Friday, filed a motion to remand it back to Circuit Court.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ray filed a motion asking that a judge automatically rule in Mr. Prebul's favor since Mr. Bensusan did not offer a response to the former auto dealer's counterclaim in Circuit Court by the assigned deadline.

Wire fraud charges are pending against Mr. Prebul in U.S. District Court in New York, as is the civil case Mr. Bensusan has filed against him there.

A suit involving Mr. Prebul's stepfather, Julius Greenwald, remains in Hamilton County Chancery Court, and proceedings continue for several of Mr. Prebul's area businesses in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Chattanooga.