Large default judgment upheld

By David Hedges, Publisher

A circuit judge has upheld a default judgment of more than $700,000 awarded to a Roane County couple.

William and Harrolyn Groves were awarded the $704,000 default judgment against Nitro Energy Inc. of Saginaw, Mich., when the company failed to respond to a lawsuit.

Prior to a recent $404 million verdict in an unrelated class-action lawsuit over gas well royalties, it was believed to be the largest judgment ever awarded in a Roane County case.

Judge Robert G. Chafin Jr. awarded the default judgment in September when Nitro, one of several defendants in the suit, failed to file a response.

Ripley attorney Larry Skeen, now representing Nitro, said at the time the suit was filed Nitro officials believed another attorney representing another defendant in the case also represented Nitro.

The suit involves oil and gas interests in a 158-acre tract purchased at a tax sale a decade ago.

All other defendants, including a number of oil and gas companies, have been dismissed from the suit. Roane Circuit Judge Tom Evans also was named in the suit for title work he did before becoming judge. Chafin found no wrongdoing on Evans' part.

Chafin, appointed special judge in the case, issued a ruling Tuesday that denied Nitro's motion to vacate the default judgment. The company could still appeal that ruling to the state Supreme Court.


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