Fresno's Paul Evert's RV plans to appeal defamation judgment

The Fresno BeeJanuary 22, 2014 


Paul Evert's RV Country, just off Highway 99 in Fresno, and three employees defamed a competing RV dealership.


Lawyers representing Paul Evert's RV Country said Wednesday the dealership will appeal a $4.5 million defamation judgment against the company and some of its employees.

Fresno County Superior Court Judge Jeff Hamilton ruled that Paul Evert's RV Country and three of its employees -- owner Paul Evert, vice president and general manager Charles Curtis and finance manager Aaron Lyon -- tried to put Bob Brewer's companies, which included Clovis RV and Fresno RV, out of business by spreading rumors they were under investigation by state regulators.

On Wednesday, the law firm Wild, Carter & Tipton said in a statement that Paul Evert's RV Country "denies that it engaged in such activity." The statement added that "it is Paul Evert's RV Country's contention that this case -- and the conduct in question -- largely revolves around fraudulent, unauthorized acts by third party, Aaron Lyon."

According to the statement, Lyon had convinced Paul Evert's RV Country that Brewer was engaging in fraudulent business practices.

"It is believed that Paul Evert's RV Country was largely targeted because of its deep pockets and that the punitive damages in excess of four million are excessive," the statement said.

In his initial ruling last October, Hamilton concluded that Fresno RV had been defamed and awarded the company $500,000 in damages. Last Friday, Hamilton awarded $4.08 million in punitive damages. Evert was ordered to pay $3 million, Curtis's share was $1 million and Lyon was ordered to pay $80,000.

The case revolved around the actions of Lyon, who was fired by Paul Evert's RV Country in March 2007, then went to work for Clovis RV as finance manager. In July 2009, after an office manager ended a relationship with Lyon and got a restraining order against him with Brewer's help, Lyon abruptly quit Clovis RV. He told the office manager and another industry associate that that he was going to "take Bob Brewer down."

A month later, Lyon was back at Paul Evert's RV Country as a finance manager and had an $8,500 signing bonus from the company. He began spreading rumors of fraud at Clovis RV that triggered an investigation and raid by state regulators, according to court documents. No charges were ever filed against Brewer's company.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6659, or @DianaT_Aguilera on Twitter.

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