FARGO - A West Fargo man is suing the Oxbow Golf and Country Club and several individuals, claiming they damaged his reputation and real estate dealings by spreading false allegations that he engaged in "rampant use of cocaine" at the club.
Attorneys for Aaron Greterman filed the complaint late last month in Cass County District Court.
The complaint names as defendants the nonprofit Oxbow Golf and Country Club, club board members Britton Mattson of Horace and Bill Short of Fargo, two other board members said to be "unidentifiable at this time," and David Campbell of Horace.
The document says the defendants slandered Greterman by claiming he used cocaine and offered it to others at the golf course, and that by defaming him, they hurt him economically. Greterman is requesting unspecified damages of more than $50,000. Messages seeking comment from attorneys representing Campbell, Short, Mattson, and the Oxbow Golf and Country Club were not returned.
According to court documents:
Greterman, who helps people buy and sell mostly high-end homes and some commercial real estate, played golf at Oxbow on June 16 as a guest of David Campbell during a two-day golf event. Greterman said he consumed a small amount of a retail product called "doTERRA Lime," described as an essential oil from the peel of fresh limes that can be taken as drops under the tongue or mixed in a drink.
Greterman said he told Campbell that the oil was like an energy shot.
Greterman played the second day of the event, but without Campbell, who had texted him that he would not be attending.
On July 11, Greterman said he received a text from Campbell asking if he had received a letter from the club, and wondering if "anything really bad" had happened at the member-guest event.
A week later, Greterman said he learned from a club member that he had been banned from the private golf club and that members of the club's board of directors said it was because of his "rampant use of cocaine."
Greterman said he was told that board member Mattson had spoken openly of Greterman being banned for "cocaine use."
Greterman contends Campbell told board members, including Mattson and Short, that Greterman had used cocaine during the June event, and that the allegation was being spread to members of the Fargo Country Club, too.
On July 18, Greterman coordinated a meeting with some board members to discuss statements that Greterman said were being made about him and coming from the club. At that meeting, Greterman was given a letter saying he was banned from the club indefinitely.
Greterman said he was told the only reason he was being banned was that he was "using cocaine, and we can't have that at Oxbow."
Greterman said he was told the reason Campbell did not show up to the second day of the member-guest golf event on June 17 was because Greterman had allegedly offered Campbell cocaine, and that Greterman was "doing cocaine on the golf cart." Greterman said he denied the accusations.
Greterman said Short and another board member told him they would make sure the board would not disclose the reason he was banned. However, Greterman said his real estate clients began telling him they were told he was "kicked out of Oxbow" for cocaine use.
In late July or early August, Greterman said the president of the realty company where Greterman works had been told Greterman had used cocaine. The allegations were also being spread to local banks.
By Aug. 10, Greterman said colleagues told him the allegations of cocaine use had spread throughout the real estate and banking community and into the wider community. Greterman said he took a drug test to prove that he had not used illicit drugs.
Greterman said current and potential clients said they would not use his services because of the allegations, and that the allegations threatened his employment. He said the allegations have also harmed him emotionally and psychologically, causing him to lose sleep and become depressed.
One of Greterman's attorneys, Andrew Parker of the Minneapolis law firm Parker Daniels Kibort, said Friday, Feb. 16, that the falsehoods have caused his client "great injury."
"They just didn't do anything to check before they started to spread it. They didn't talk to him" or investigate, Parker said. "There are few accusations about someone that are more damaging to their reputation - and often to their profession - than these types of accusations."