U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, bank settle lawsuit out of court

U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, bank settle lawsuit out of court

August 11th, 2011 by Andy Johns in News

U.S. Rep. Tom Graves.

U.S. Rep. Tom Graves.

The lawsuit against U.S. Rep. Tom Graves over a failed motel in Calhoun, Ga., has been dismissed after he and the bank suing him settled out of court.

Attorneys representing Bartow County Bank and Graves filed a joint dismissal minutes before 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Both parties agreed to throw out the case "without prejudice of claims," but the terms of the settlement are bound by a confidentiality agreement, according to the attorneys involved.

Graves and state Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, were scheduled to appear in Gordon County Court today for a hearing on motion for summary judgment by the bank.

Bartow County Bank in Cartersville sued Tich Hospitality and its owners, Graves and Rogers, in January 2010. The suit said the lawmakers couldn't make payments on a $2.2 million dollar loan they used to open the Oglethorpe Inn. The bank also alleged the duo violated terms of their contract by selling Tich Hospitality without telling the lender.

Edward Hine, the attorney for the bank, confirmed the dismissal but declined to provide details.

Graves released a statement saying he was pleased with the outcome.

"All parties have been committed to finding a positive solution and I am pleased to share that our common goal has been achieved. I am happy this matter is fully resolved in an equitable and fair manner," he said.

State Sen. Chip Rogers, Woodstock

State Sen. Chip Rogers, Woodstock

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

The agreement appears to shut the door on the motel case. The lawsuit had gone on in the background of Graves' four elections last year and his tenure on Capitol Hill, which has included a high-profile stance for fiscal responsibility.

During his 2010 election campaigns, Graves' opponents accused him of doing the "Washington two-step" to get the court action postponed. Proceedings were halted in January when Rogers invoked a law that prohibits state legislators from appearing in court during the legislative session. Rogers tried to invoke the same clause before Thursday's hearing, court records show, but a judge denied the motion because this summer's special legislative session doesn't start until Monday.

Graves' attorney, Simon Bloom, of Atlanta, declined to comment on the settlement.

Graves made several public appearances in his 9th District on Monday and Tuesday. No one brought up the hearing when Graves appeared Monday in Catoosa County, but after a GOP meeting that day he told a reporter said there was no new information on the case.

Big Canoe resident Nancy Kennell said she asked the congressman about his loan issues at an ice cream social in Pickens County on Tuesday.

"He kept eating his ice cream and asked me, 'Do you believe everything you read?'" she said in a phone interview Wednesday.

Monday in Catoosa County, Graves reiterated his stance on federal spending. He said the federal government needs to do like most Americans, "spending what you have and only what you have."

"It's common sense," he told a crowd. "Every family does it and every business does it."

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