Flood Money behind Branson Landing Property Dispute Yields Unusually Rapid Ruling From Southern District Court of Appeals
In order to get a loan on the property banks were informed that no litigation was in progress. Whether simple misrepresentation, fraud or it just happened to slip the minds of attorneys, documents reveal the city lied in order to ensure the Branson Landing project was developed and the state of Missouri would kick $50 million to create a Super-TIF.
The $450 million Branson Landing project was completed and millions in tax dollars were rebated to the developer. Contrary to information provided to financial institutions, one-third of the Branson Landing's ownership was being disputed. A Taney County Jury awarded the land to Doug Coverdell much to the dismay of city officials and a variety of law firms - many of which argued that Doug Coverdell did in fact and in other motions did not own the land.
Branson's local newspaper didn't inform the public that a local jury granted a large portion of the Branson Landing to a third party until the cover-up was too large to ignore and a score of other media outlets beat them to the punch.
The Branson Tri-Lakes news served as a mouthpiece for the City of Branson who beat the battle drum and promised the case would be heard in the Supreme Court of Missouri. The facts were so overbearingly against the City of Branson that a victory in a lower court wasn't even considered.
While Raeanne Presley continues to perpetually wave her middle finger at the Attorney General Chris Koster by repeatedly ignoring Missouri's open government aka Sunshine Laws; it is well known in the legal community that former Supreme Court Chief Justice John Holstein was paid off to handle the case. Holstein happens to be the father-in-law of the Branson City Attorney who orchestrated the debacle in the first place. Presley has denied access to information regarding how large the pay-off was; however, Branson city leaders have allocated $750,000 to an unknown legal expense.
After being rejected by the Southern District Court of Appeals several times, Holstein was able to make an incredible save for Empire District Electric who was brutally beaten in both Taney County and the appellate. Holstein was able to side step court rules by submitting new evidence (a map perverting the land layout and development that occurred years after the dispute began); time limitation requirements and jurisdictional issues.
Holstein verbally argued on April 5th of this year that enabling a jury to rule on the Branson Landing case would cause harm to land law throughout the state. Though the very opposite was true; Holstein was able to yield Taney County residents impotent when it comes to making jury verdicts.
The Court of Appeals ruling insured the case would continue. A second case alleged public officials plotted with Empire District Electric conspiring to defraud Coverdell out of the land. While the public hasn't been informed of the case through media; court records show Holstein has appeared at taxpayer expense to fight this case as well.
For an entrepreneur having land locked in litigation is damaging. The double edge sword has cut both sides. Rick Huffman, a principle of HCW learned the hard way that development on the water front was to be halted for a unknown period of time. After the Southern District Court of Appeals sent instructions back to the 38th Circuit ; Huffman celebrated victory; a victory that was never won.
Since the land is in litigation Huffman has been blocked from inking deals. Bottom line is he can't get title insurance due to the fact it is now well known that the Branson Landing ownership is in dispute.
Four years ago we reported Shelia Wyatt filed a wage dispute suit against the city of Branson; the case has been sitting without action in the court of appeals indefinitely. Coverdell chose a different path by exploiting Presley's love affair with Obamabucks.
In order to get the case knocked out of the Southern District Court of Appeals in 58 days, property owners and businesses on the Branson Landing were given notice that any funds allocated for flood damage would be diverted to him as the rightful owner. Effective pressure was given to the court of appeals and a ruling quickly kicked the case back to the 38th Circuit.
An appeal to Missouri's Supreme Court has been filed and Huffman suggested to the press that Holstein has enough pull to ensure the court never rules on the case.
Unfortunately for city officials and private developers; no development will occur on the disputed land until the case is resolved. If the Supreme Court of Missouri fails to hear the case it will likely be heard by a new Taney County Jury, a process that could take years.
(Draft 1 Aug, 12 2011)