New York-based jazz club owner Danny Bensusan has let go the Chattanooga attorneys who were handling his legal battles with brother-in-law Joseph Prebul and replaced them with a team from New York and Nashville.
Bruce Bailey, Tom Greenholtz and Hugh Moore of Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel PC in Chattanooga were recently unsuccessful in blocking Mr. Prebul from filing a counterclaim against Mr. Bensusan in Hamilton County Circuit Court.
A motion hearing in Danny Bensusan's Hamilton County Circuit Court case is scheduled for May 11, which is also the deadline for federal prosecutors in New York to make their next move in Joseph Prebul's criminal case.
But the change has nothing to do with any dissatisfaction with the team's work, according to Mr. Bensusan's new litigator, William Fried of New York City's Herrick, Feinstein LLP.
"We haven't had a single problem with them," Mr. Fried said. "It really has nothing to do with the Chambliss firm at all."
Mr. Fried said he chose to bring in Austin McMullen and Roger Jones of Nashville's Boult, Cummings, Conners & Berry PLC only because he already has a working relationship with them.
"I have pretty much taken over the running of the case, and I wanted to bring in my guys," he said.
Mr. McMullen and Mr. Greenholtz, who appeared in Circuit Court Monday to announce his withdrawal, declined to comment on the change.
The new lawyers will take over in Circuit Court and in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, where the trustee for Mr. Prebul's estate is suing him for $9.1 million.
Mr. Fried said he views those cases as linked and will deal with them "as one big hullabaloo."
Both cases were launched shortly after Mr. Prebul's Feb. 10 arrest on 11 counts of federal wire fraud. The charges stem from allegations that Mr. Prebul, who owns several auto dealerships in Chattanooga and Dalton, Ga., bilked Mr. Bensusan out of $7 million meant to be invested and later returned.
The day after his arrest, Mr. Prebul filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection for several of his dealerships. Sales of those franchise rights are pending.
Mr. Bensusan filed a $32 million lawsuit against Mr. Prebul in Circuit Court on Feb. 12. He withdrew that and filed another civil lawsuit in federal court in New York through New York attorney Gerald McMahon, but a judge has allowed Mr. Prebul to keep the Circuit Court case going.