On April 9, an Arizona-based company called Golf Travel filed a $2.4 million federal suit against Joe Mullins, the Flagler County commissioner and owner of Mullins Sports and Entertainment in Augusta, Ga. The suit claims Mullins was liable for fraud, breach of contract and violation of the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act known as RICO.
On May 21, Mullins responded to the claim through his attorney, denying the allegations and moving for a partial dismissal. The motion argues that the claim fails to state a fraud claim or that RICO was violated.
The lawsuit is similar to a federal lawsuit Mullins faced in 2013, and settled. Some of the lawyers on both sides of that lawsuit were identical: John T. Sparks Sr., who filed the suits, and Randolph Frails, who represented Mullins then and now. Other lawyers were also involved in the 2013 case. If the history of that lawsuit is any guide, the current lawsuit is only at the early stages of a multi-year wrangle, and may end with an out-of-court settlement.
The suit filed in April alleges that Mullins defrauded Golf Travel by selling it tickets to the Augusta National Masters tournament and its practice rounds in 2018 and 2019, tickets that were either invalid or never delivered. Many patrons holding such tickets were removed from the premises and humiliated, according to Golf Travel, while Golf Travel itself lost clients and was eventually ruined.
Listing defenses, Mullins’s answer to the suit argues that some or all of the claims are beyond statutes of limitation, that injuries suffered by Golf Travel were the result of its own “negligence,” and that Golf Travel’s “claims are barred by its failure to mitigate” the damages alleged.
The suit against Mullins had named him, his company and numerous “John Doe” individuals, but it does not clarify who those individuals were other than to claim that they “conspired together to defraud [Golf Travel] and acted as the agents of one another with the full knowledge and approval of the other Defendants.”
Mullins’s answer to the suit denies “that Joseph Mullins is the alter ego of Mullins Sports and Entertainment LLC or any other corporate entity,” or that the parties named in the suit “have been stubbornly litigious or acted in bad faith.” Of the more than 120 statements or allegations set forth by the suit, the response from Mullins’s attorney was to deny them or to claim insufficient information to either admit or deny them.
The answers largely follow the sort of answers provided in the 2013 lawsuit, though at the time there’d also been claims by the filer–Global Events Management Group–that Mullins and the named company at the time, Mullins Management Group, had been defaming and slanderous. Mullins’s answer at the time claimed such statements had been opinions.
The first lawsuit was filed in June 2013. If it’s in any way suggestive of how the current lawsuit’s path may go, the 2013 suit wasn’t settled until February 2017, after counterclaims were filed. Trial had been scheduled for that January, before an out-of-court settlement was reached as the two sides dismissed all claims against each other.