Post Tagged with: "Lawsuit"

Myrtle Beach City Council Approves Product Ban

August 17, 2018 3:34 AM
Myrtle Beach City Council Approves Product Ban

Myrtle Beach City Council Tuesday approved an overlay district on a portion of Ocean Boulevard that will ban legal products from being sold on the basis they are not “family friendly.”

Family friendly is an excuse the city administrator and city council roll out when they have no solid reason for doing something.

In my opinion, the majority five council members who voted for the ban, Brenda Bethune, Phil Render, Mike Chestnut, Jackie Vereen and Mary Jeffcoat took a position on the issue that is arrogant, ill-considered and downright embarrassing.

If the five believe the issue is settled, I doubt it is.

To quote Winston Churchill after the Battle of Britain, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” Churchill was correct, five long years of war remained.

I fully expect the legality of the ordinance to be challenged in court. But city council doesn’t care because they will not be paying from their pockets to defend a lawsuit if one is forthcoming. It will be your taxpayer dollars that are wasted just as they were with the ill-fated helmet law council passed some years ago.

Local attorney Reese Boyd pointed out during the meeting that the ordinance has changed by 70 percent or more since it passed first reading in May 2017. This draws into question whether the ordinance received a true second and final reading Tuesday.

The ordinance targets businesses that are Jewish owned bringing into question how it stands up to the anti-discrimination precepts contained in the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

It is absolutely ridiculous that a targeted product can be sold on one block of Ocean Boulevard but not on the next, as will be the case if the ordinance withstands expected legal challenges. “Family friendly” is evidently determined by geography.

Is it because of who owns the targeted businesses and not about what they sell?

If so, it wouldn’t be beyond the realm of possibility that a case of conspiracy could be alleged.

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Budgets, Elections and Micromanagement in Horry County

April 30, 2018 7:30 AM
Budgets, Elections and Micromanagement in Horry County

There are six weeks to go before county voters will go to the polls to vote in local, state and federal primary elections.

The race which seems to be drawing the largest amount of attention throughout Horry County at this time is the Republican Primary contest for Horry County Council Chairman between challenger Johnny Gardner and incumbent Mark Lazarus.

At the same time, Horry County Council is considering its budget for Fiscal Year 2019, which begins July 1, 2018. Four weeks ago, Grand Strand Daily ran a story about the proposed FY 2019 budget calling it an election year budget because of provisions in the proposed budget that appear to be included just to attract voters to incumbents.

Unfortunately, this type of focus on the budget at election time does not serve the best interests of council or the citizens.

According to multiple sources within county government, decisions for Horry County are being micromanaged by a partnership between Lazarus and County Administrator Chris Eldridge.

This partnership proposed an average three percent merit raise for all county employees with somewhat larger raises targeted to public safety personnel (police, fire and EMS) in the FY2019 budget.

This is not to say the proposed raises are unjustified. However, this type of targeting and its associated hype during council’s Spring Budget Retreat appear to be more about the votes of county employees than the needs of the county. County employees along with their families, neighbors and friends comprise a large voting block.

The micromanagement partnership focus appears to be on the wrong issues, however.

Despite the proposed raises, Horry County Professional Firefighter Local 4345 of the International Association of Firefighters and Coastal Carolina Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 12 endorsed the candidacy of Gardner in the upcoming June 12, 2018 primary.

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Efforts to Debunk Karon Mitchell Lawsuit Flawed

April 7, 2018 4:48 AM
Efforts to Debunk Karon Mitchell Lawsuit Flawed

(Ed. Note – Some negative reactions heard locally to the Karon Mitchell lawsuit are like the Chinese fireworks pictured above – loud and colorful but, in the end, just smoke.)

On April 5, 2018 at 3:05 p.m., Karon Mitchell filed a lawsuit against the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce (MBACC), the City of Myrtle Beach and Horry County alleging misuse of tourism development fee (TDF) and accommodations tax (ATax) public funds.

In response to the lawsuit, MBACC issued a blanket denial of the allegations and at least one local television news outlet in the area attempted to, in its words, “fact check” the allegations.

The MBACC response came in a media statement issued April 6, 2018, by board chair Carla Schuessler:

“Today we had an opportunity to review the lawsuit that was filed against us, and l am disappointed to see that we will have to divert our time and resources to address this case which is full of conjecture, innuendo and inaccurate statements. The Chamber complies with all applicable laws regarding the use of public funds and selects vendors based on best business practices.”

The Chamber statement went on to say it will hold a press conference next week to accurately address the statements in the lawsuit.

The local news outlet broadcast a story April 6, 2018 where it claimed to find discrepancies, between claims in the lawsuit and MBACC public disclosure documents, with respect to public money spent with what are called in the lawsuit “crony companies.” According to the lawsuit, crony companies are companies formed by former and/or current Chamber employees and, in at least one instance, a company owned by a MBACC executive board member.

This appeared to be much ado about nothing as the MBACC public disclosure documents used generic descriptions instead of specific vendor names for some of the expenses listed. If those challenged expense amounts did not go to any of the crony companies, next week’s MBACC press conference can “accurately address” those statements and tell us exactly what company did receive the payments.

Another area addressed in the media story was a statement in the lawsuit that “the chamber funneled tourism tax money through the crony companies to contribute to politicians supported by the chamber.” 

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Attorney for Angie Jones Hits Core of County Lawsuit Argument

January 8, 2018 8:08 AM
Attorney for Angie Jones Hits Core of County Lawsuit Argument

Gene Connell, attorney for Treasurer Angie Jones in her lawsuit against county government, hit at the core of the county’s argument in its answer and counterclaim to Jones’ complaint.

In a Motion to Strike certain portions of the county answer, Connell wrote, “…such allegations have nothing to do with the case, nor with Jones’s request of this court and are only meant to defame and/or to be scandalous to the Plaintiff,” and addressing another allegation “Defendant only seeks to impugn the Plaintiff’s character.”

These statements hit at the basic core of the county’s argument. Certain members of county staff and county government have become imperious in their attitudes toward disagreement, criticism and anyone who dares to challenge them.

Connell is correct in that the county has ignored the essence of Jones’ complaint and has chosen to seek revenge on her for filing the lawsuit by attacking her personally.

‘Attack’, ‘revenge’ and ‘fake news’ have quickly become a staple part of political lexicon in America today to the detriment of American style government and the citizens it is supposed to serve.

Many of our supposed leaders forget they were elected to serve, not anointed to rule.

Frankly, all Jones is attempting to do is attain enough employees to provide the level of service the citizens of the county expect and deserve.

According to state law, employees of the Treasurer’s Office and level of service fall only in the purview of the county treasurer.

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Questioning the Arrogant County Response to the Angie Jones Lawsuit

December 18, 2017 11:02 AM
Questioning the Arrogant County Response to the Angie Jones Lawsuit

Horry County’s response to the lawsuit filed by Treasurer Angie Jones raises many questions about what exactly is going on in county government.

Shortly after assuming office on July 1, 2017, Jones requested funding be added to the Treasurer’s Office budget of approximately $30,000 in order to hire one additional clerk to help with service to customers in Conway, Myrtle Beach, Little River and Surfside Beach offices as needed.

This request was rejected by the county council’s Administration Committee.

As a result, Jones filed her lawsuit against the county requesting sufficient funding and staffing to effectively run her office.

In response to the summons and complaint, the county charged, “… such issues are solely as a result of her (Jones) mismanagement of her offices and her own decisions, including her decisions to drive out and remove and replace competent long-term employees with friends and political supporters lacking in relevant experience.”

In addition, the county alleges Jones has exceeded the budget for the Treasurer’s Office and should be held personally responsible for paying back to the county any budget deficit as well as attorney’s fees for defending the lawsuit.

Speaking of mismanagement and paying back budget deficits by this county government is laughable in light of past and present issues with its initiatives, its budget and its decisions.

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Horry County Response to Treasurer Angie Jones Lawsuit Goes Beyond Legal Issues

December 15, 2017 7:01 AM
Horry County Response to Treasurer Angie Jones Lawsuit Goes Beyond Legal Issues

The response filed by Horry County Government December 14, 2017, to a lawsuit filed by Horry County Treasurer Angie Jones last month, appears to take the issues in the case out of the purely legal realm.

At some level within the government, this case certainly seems to be more personal than merely a disagreement over funding for the Treasurer’s Office.

The following extracts from the county’s response provide some insight:

Para. 5 First Defense – “… legal issues manufactured by Jones are not genuine legal issues, but issues solely caused by Jones’s failure to properly manage the Office of the Treasurer and properly understand South Carolina State law regarding the obligations and responsibilities of county treasurers in South Carolina as well as the functioning of county government.”

Para. 8 First Defense – “… Jones has consistently attempted to manipulate, usurp and contravene the budgeting powers and process of Horry County, to include the bringing of this legal action and casting constant blame on others including the prior Treasurer, for the sole purpose of misleading the public, justifying the employment of friends and political supporters and diverting attention away from her mismanagement of the Treasurer’s Office.”

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Concerns Abound Over Operation of Bucksport Marina

September 15, 2017 9:10 AM
Concerns Abound Over Operation of Bucksport Marina

More than three months after a racially charged incident marred a Memorial Day Weekend festival at Bucksport Marina, questions about the future direction of the publicly owned facility remain unanswered.

The Bucksport Marina incident has remained under the radar as the more well-known incident involving former Conway High School football coach Chuck Jordan grabbed local headlines.

But, in many ways, the incident at the Bucksport Marina was more blatant involving physical injuries, financial suffering and the hurling of racial epithets at a man just doing his job.

On May 28, 2017, Curtis Hendrix was working for the “Waccamaw Getaway Music Festival” hosted by the restaurant on the Bucksport Marina property. One of his duties was to shuttle visitors to the festival to their cars or campsite at the RV resort on the marina property.

While performing those duties, a cart in which Hendrix was riding was forced off the road and into a ditch by Jeffrey Weeks. Weeks was operating the marina and RV resort under a sub-lease with E.D. LLC, the lessee of the marina, resort and restaurant property. E.D. LLC was leasing the property from Grand Strand Water and Sewer Authority.

After forcing the cart off the road, Weeks stopped his vehicle and began yelling at the occupants of the cart, using racial epithets such as “f—–g niggers”, according to the police report of the incident.

Weeks was arrested and charged with 2nd Degree Assault. According to the 15th Circuit Court Index, the charges were brought before a Grand Jury and a True Bill Indictment was found against Weeks by the Grand Jury on August 9, 2017.

Hendrix suffered injuries that resulted in him not being able to work, thereby suffering financial loss and the loss of personal property as a result, according a lawsuit Hendrix has brought against Weeks personally and E.D. LLC.

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Lawsuit Filed Against Bucksport Plantation Marina Operators

September 11, 2017 4:40 AM
Lawsuit Filed Against Bucksport Plantation Marina Operators

A lawsuit with racial discrimination overtones was recently filed against the Bucksport Plantation Marina and RV Resort, ED LLC and Jeffrey Weeks individually for an incident that took place on May 28, 2017.

The lawsuit was filed by Melinda Knowles, attorney representing Plaintiff Clarence Curtis Hendrix, in the 15th Circuit Court on September 1, 2017.

What makes this lawsuit noteworthy is Bucksport Plantation Marina and RV Resort is owned by Grand Strand Water and Sewer Authority (GSWSA), a public agency that was created by the S.C. General Assembly through the passage of Act 337 of 1971.

According to the lawsuit, “ED LLC maintains an exclusive leasehold interest in the real property that houses the Resort and, upon information and belief, either employs Weeks as manager of the Resort or operates a partnership with Weeks in the operation of the Resort.”

According to the lawsuit, Hendrix, who is African-American, was hired by “The Waccamaw Getaway Music Festival” that was held over Memorial Day Weekend 2017 at the Bucksport Marina venue.

The incident involving Weeks and Hendrix, which led to the lawsuit, is described in the complaint, “During the early morning hours of Sunday, May 28, 2017 Plaintiff and the other staff members were engaged in driving an intoxicated Festival attendee back to his campsite. Weeks, driving a large heavy-duty black truck, drove up behind the courtesy shuttle at a high rate of speed. When it became clear that the truck was not decreasing in speed, Plaintiff’s co-staff member attempted to evade the truck and avoid a collision by hugging the shoulder of the narrow dirt road. Ultimately, the truck driven by Weeks forced the shuttle off the road with all three occupants onboard. The shuttle struck a ditch and became lodged with two of its wheels suspended in the air. The crash and the force of the impact threw Plaintiff off the shuttle. Simultaneous with the shuttle’s wreck, Weeks brought his heavy-duty truck to a rapid, skidding stop next to the disabled golf cart. Weeks then exited his truck, snatched the key out of the disabled shuttle, and verbally accosted Plaintiff in the presence of the Festival attendee.”

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Dan Liu Fires Back at Founders Group International Partner

July 24, 2017 4:22 AM
Dan Liu Fires Back at Founders Group International Partner

(Pictured above, Dan Liu (left) and Nick Dou in happier times)

Dan Liu, majority partner of the Founders Group International entities, fired back hard at minority partner Nick Dou in answering a complaint in a lawsuit filed by Dou against Liu, three Chinese corporations and the many limited liability companies that make up the Founders Group International holdings.

According to Dou’s complaint, the three Chinese corporations were 90 percent owners of the Founders Group properties and Dou was 10 percent owner. Liu was the exclusive authorized agent in the U.S. for the Chinese corporations.

In his lawsuit, Dou alleges Liu was stripping assets out of the corporation for personal and other uses. The suit alleges breach of contract, fraud and conversion by Liu.

Additionally, Dou asks for a full accounting of corporate assets as well as a temporary restraining order directing Liu “shall not divert, remove, alienate, convert, encumber or otherwise manipulate any corporate assets of FGI or any of the other FGI Entities for his personal use or benefit, until such time as the claims raised in this action have either been resolved by this Court, settled and/or withdrawn by the Parties to this action…”

The complaint also states, “Plaintiff Nick Dou is informed and believes that the assets and property of FGI and the affiliated FGI Entities are at grave risk and danger of loss, and of material injury and impairment, at the hands of Defendant Dan Liu, if such property and assets are left under the exclusive control of Defendant Dan Liu.”

Dou’s complaint also states, “Upon information and belief, on or about March 27, 2017, the Nanjing District Attorney’s office for the Jiangsu Province of the PRC issued public statements that it seeks the arrest of Defendant Dan Liu for suspicion of investment fraud and “absorbing public money.”

A copy of this public statement release was submitted as an exhibit with Dou’s complaint.

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New Insights Into Founders Group International Lawsuit

July 7, 2017 5:02 AM
New Insights Into Founders Group International Lawsuit

(Pictured above, Dan Liu (left) and Nick Dou)

Investigation into the lawsuit filed in the 15th Judicial Circuit by Nick Dou against Dan Liu and three Chinese corporations over properties held collectively by Founders Group International continues to bring new revelations to the surface.

According to a source familiar with the lawsuit, Dan Liu was served locally with the lawsuit in recent days.

Liu’s peer to peer lending company, which did business in the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) under both its Mandarin name “Yiqian Funding” and its English name “Easy Richness”, raised the money that was used to buy golf courses and other property in Horry and Georgetown counties.

According to records in Horry County, Liu and Dou established approximately 16 limited liability corporations to hold the various properties purchased in Horry and Georgetown counties. Collectively, the llc’s are known locally as Founders Group International.

According to court documents, Dou holds 10 percent interest in Founders Group International and the associated llc’s. The three Chinese corporations, for which Liu acts as exclusive U.S. agent, hold the remaining 90 percent of the llc’s.

According to sources familiar with Yiqian Funding, the company raised a total of approximately 10 billion Yuan ($1.5 billion) from approximately 60,000 investors over a six year period. Estimates are that at least $300 million was taken out of the PRC for investment in the U.S.

Sources with knowledge of Yiqian said what was purchased was not really important to Liu. His main goal was getting the money beyond the borders of the PRC.

For that purpose, Liu established the three Chinese corporations, apparently nothing more than shell corporations, to receive the investor money from Yiqian Funding to use for purchases in the U.S.

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