A Clarke County Superior Court Judge has stayed the state’s case against a drug-recovery facility owned by Athens landlord Fred Moorman.
Inspectors with the state Department of Community Health filed legal papers a year ago claiming Moorman’s Palm House Recovery Center is an unlicensed drug-treatment facility. The state asked Superior Court Judge Eric Norris to allow state inspectors to see company records and inspect the premises.
Now, Moorman will ask the state to approve a license for the facility “once it is able to hire the necessary employees,” according to an order staying the case Norris signed in December.
The licensing process must be completed by April 18. If it is completed by then, the state will dismiss its case.
Meanwhile, lawyers have filed a blizzard of motions and other entries in a separate civil suit against Moorman, owner of Fred’s Historic Properties and other companies.
Several owners in the Heritage Square condominium complex sued Moorman and others last year, saying Moorman was using illegal means to take over ownership and control of Heritage Square, housing Palm House participants in the units he purchased.
Moorman’s tactics as he obtained more and more units included practices such as paying part of the costs in ways that wouldn’t show up on county property tax records — agreeing to buy appliances at high prices, paying off credit card debt in lieu of direct payment and the like, according to the plaintiffs.
Those practices artificially lowered appraised values, according to the those suing Moorman.
Moorman has steadily acquired units and now owns nearly 80 percent of the condos in Heritage Square, according to the plaintiffs.
One condominium owner who wouldn’t sell actually appealed to county assessors to change the valuation on the condominium — to raise not lower it. They got their assessment increased from around $70,000 to about $100,000, according to court documents.
Clarke County Superior Court Judge Lawton Stephens last month partially dismissed the condo owners’ lawsuit against Moorman, saying the plaintiffs could not sue under the state’s civil racketeering law. Plaintiffs also had to show individual harm Moorman may have done them, Stephens said.
Lawyers for the condo owners moved to appeal that ruling to the state Court of Appeals, have filed a new amendment complaint and have asked Moorman to produce records relating to the case, including his plans for developing the condo complex.
Lawyers for Moorman say the appeal is improper and have asked Stephens to dismiss the case.