Justice, Greenbrier face second lawsuit

The Greenbrier

The Greenbrier

Jim Justice and his Greenbrier Resort are facing another lawsuit.

The architect who oversaw the restoration of The Greenbrier’s Old White Course, the darling of the PGA Tour this summer in its tournament debut, is suing the property owner, alleging non-payment.

Designer Lester George of Richmond, Va., filed suit Oct. 21 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia against Greenbrier Hotel Corp. and James C. Justice Cos. for $199,885 covering fees for services that he undertook in 2009-10 related to Old White.

George had done the restoration on Old White in 2002-06, when he brought back many of the original Charles Blair Macdonald-Seth Raynor features of the course. Construction work was done by Aspen Corp. of Daniels, W.Va. The project, undertaken by then-owner CFX, was fully paid. In May 2009, The Greenbrier Resort was sold to Justice. Old White is now home to the PGA Tour’s Greenbrier Classic. The inaugural event was held this summer and won by Stuart Appleby, who shot 59 in the final round.

George’s suit is the second to be filed this fall against Jim Justice and Greenbrier alleging non-payment. On Sept. 29, Aspen Corp. filed in Greenbrier County Circuit Court a claim of $1.275 million for work undertaken in 2009-10. Aspen and George are represented by the same attorney, John Tinney, a senior partner of The Tinney Law Firm in Charleston, W.Va.

In response to the lawsuits, Justice told Golfweek that “the details will come out in time. The whole issue centers on poor performance. It’s people who have overcharged and are taking advantage and that have done very poor work. . . . The work was completely sub-par. We had to take over the project, the tournament was coming and we saved the day.”

According to Tinney, “the evidence will show that the work done by George Golf Design and Aspen Corporation was not only timely and satisfactorily done but was an excellent product. In addition, the firms worked under constant pressure and change orders directed by Mr. Justice, who was told that such change orders would result in extra expenses that he would be billed for. And he said that he agreed and would pay for them.”

Ty Votaw, the PGA Tour's executive vice president of communications and international affairs, would not comment.

George’s suit claims $139,885 in unpaid design work. The suit includes an additional $60,000 unpaid out of an initial $80,000 contract for a manuscript on the Greenbrier that George was producing. Justice said the writing project was ended because “Lester’s book just got completely out of control.”

Old White was closed for renovation work on Sept. 26. That project is being overseen by PGA Tour Design Services, with the construction work contracted to McDonald & Son.

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