A long-lingering lawsuit over an allegedly botched deal to sell the State Fair of Virginia has been settled out of court.
New Kent County-based Mini-USA’s case against local legal giant Williams Mullen and Farm Bureau of Virginia, the state fair’s current owner, was dismissed Jan. 19 after more than a year of wrangling in Richmond Circuit Court.
An attorney for Mini-USA and a spokesman for the farm bureau both confirmed the case was settled, though neither would comment on the terms of the resolution. Both sides gave identical statements: “The matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of the parties.” Mini-USA had sought $14 million in damages.
Court filings regarding the dismissal state only that the matter was resolved. The settlement was reached a week after the case had been scheduled for a four-day trial.
Mini-USA, run by local concert promoter Gratton Stephens, claimed in the November 2014 suit that its attempts to buy the State Fair of Virginia in 2012 were thwarted by an alleged conspiracy between the farm bureau and Williams Mullen. The deal would have included the fair and its sprawling Meadow Event Park in Caroline County. The assets had come on the market following the bankruptcy of the fair’s previous owner.
Mini-USA hired Williams Mullen to assist in the sale process, the case claimed, and it approached Farm Bureau about being an investor in the deal. Farm Bureau of Virginia, which was a major client of Williams Mullen, eventually bought the fair and its assets.
In addition to the conspiracy claim, Mini-USA’s suit alleges violations of state trade secret laws and legal malpractice, among other counts.
Both defendants maintained there was no such conspiracy and sought to have the case tossed out, but Judge Theodore Markow ruled against them last spring and allowed the case to go forward toward trial.
The farm bureau was represented by Henry Willett and Harrison Gates of Christian & Barton. Everette Allen Jr. and Stephen Faraci of LeClairRyan represented Williams Mullen.
Mini-USA was represented in the case by Harris Butler of Butler Royals.
Butler has another case in the works against a separate Richmond legal giant that has taken an interesting turn in recent weeks.