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Jury awards $21,500 to Sisson in business dispute

Jan. 21. By Dave Yochum. A Lincoln County jury has decided that both Bayport Holdings and Brian P. Sisson breached “a material term” of the management agreement that determined how Sisson would run The Range at Lake Norman in Denver, NC.

The agreement between Bayport, a partnership that includes Cornelius businessman Bob Watson and Kevin Lafone, and Sisson lasted less than six months

BRIAN SISSON

before it misfired.

Meanwhile, Sisson hopes to run for the NC Senate seat that includes Cornelius. His wife Tricia is CEO of The Range at Lake Norman, as well as a newly elected member of the Cornelius Town Board.

Bayport sued Sisson and Sisson counter-sued, culminating in a five-day trial in Lincoln County Superior Court.

According to the jurors, Bayport breached the management agreement first.

The jury awarded Sisson nothing for Bayport’s breach as well as nothing to Watson et al for Sisson’s breach.

BOB WATSON

Around the subject of Bayport breaching the management agreement first, the jury decided not to award damages to Sisson.

Things went wrong between the two from the very beginning in January 2018, starting with Bayport apparently hiding the true nature of its financial position.

Bayport’s owners were in arrears on their bank loans, but they did not tell Sisson before the agreement was signed. The jurors also decided the inventory of firearms and accessories was erroneous.

The matter of Bayport Holdings v. Brian Sisson may have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to litigate but the damages awarded are relatively small.

Sisson was entitled to $18,500 from Bayport  for converting Sisson’s property to their own use after the agreement collapsed and Sisson was banned from the multimillion-dollar shooting range on Hwy. 16 in Denver.

There were multiple verdicts. Among them:

Did Sisson convert Bayport’s property? NO

Did Sisson misappropriate Bayport trade secrets? NO

Did Bayport negligently misrepresent information to Sisson? YES

Did Sisson take advantage of a position of trust and confidence to take Bayport’s customer list? YES

Did Sisson take advantage of a position of trust and confidence to bring about the closing of Denver Defense? NO

Did Sisson take advantage of a position of trust and confidence to co-mingle Bayport’s finances with Lake Norman Sporting Arms (aka The Range at Lake Norman) ? YES

The verdicts—all 48 of them—were a mixture of wins and losses for both sides.

Sisson won in terms of dollars and cents.

TRICIA SISSON

In addition to the $18,500 in damages awarded to Sisson for Bayport converting his property, he was awarded $3,000 in damages because Bayport negligently

misrepresented information regarding the sale of Denver Defense.

The jury awarded Bayport $1 for Sisson taking “advantage of a position of trust and confidence” to take a copy of Bayport’s customer list, operate Bayport’s business under his own bank account and co-mingle their operating finances.

The precarious nature of Bayport/Denver Defense financial situation was a contentious issue during the trial. The jury decided that Bayport/Denver Defense mislead Sisson around the size of the inventory, its default on bank loans, failure to pay several vendors and the

KEVIN LAFONE

fact that the partners had funded the operation to the tune of $207,000 “to keep the business alive.”

Serious matters, all, but Sisson was awarded only $4.50 due to Bayport’s conduct.

Sisson told Cornelius Today it is “regretful that Denver Defense was simply not a viable business.”

“In my testimony I made it clear that I made every effort to correct the ineffective financial situation created by the owners and employees of Denver Defense in the operation of their business, most of which I was not aware of when I entered into the management agreement.  As it became known to me through the course of discovery and the trial, the hundreds of thousands of dollars the owners infused into the business in shareholder capital calls to try and keep the business afloat in 2017 were a complete surprise, and in the end the financials simply could not work.  The jury was made aware of that through the course of the trial and their verdict reflected those facts,” Sisson said.

Watson did not comment.  Sources said Bayport investors were disappointed by the verdicts in the complex business case. Bayport had requested the jury trial, which is considered somewhat unusual in this kind of a matter.

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