Nations land deal dispute headed to Supreme Court

A bankruptcy case stemming from a failed land deal in The Nations is heading to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The justices will hear oral arguments in the appeal, Ritzen Group Inc. vs. Jackson Masonry LLC on Nov. 13. The case began with Ritzen’s attempt to purchase Jackson Masonry’s property at 1200 49th Ave. N. The property is located two blocks east of the high-profile intersection of 51st Avenue North and Centennial Boulevard and is close to the Stocking 51 and Silo Bend developments.

The sale fell through. Ritzen sued in state court, claiming Jackson Masonry breached the contract by providing incomplete or incorrect documentation just before the closing. Jackson Masonry filed a counterclaim, claiming it complied with the contract, was prepared to close, and that Ritzen breached the contract by failing to secure funding on time.

The case had proceeded in state court for a year and a half when Jackson Masonry filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. That stayed, or stopped, Ritzen’s suit. Ritzen requested relief from the stay to proceed in state court. The bankruptcy court denied the request.

The bankruptcy court later ruled against Ritzen on its breach of contract claim and in favor of Jackson Masonry on its breach of contract claim. Ritzen filed two appeals in federal district court in Nashville. The first was aimed at the bankruptcy court’s order denying relief from the automatic stay. The second took issue with the breach-of-contract ruling. The district court ruled in favor of Jackson Masonry on all issues. Ritzen then appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed the district court ruling. 

The Supreme Court will now decide the issue of when an appeal of a bankruptcy court’s denial of a request for relief from the automatic stay must be made. Ritzen’s petition argues that federal courts in various circuits across the country have answered that question inconsistently.

Ritzen is represented by Shane Ramsey and James Haltom at the law firm Nelson Mullins. Jackson Masonry is represented by Griffin Dunham and Ned Hildebrand at the firm Dunham Hildebrand.

“Jackson Masonry respects the Supreme Court’s decision to grant certiorari” and hear the case. “Jackson Masonry has prevailed before the bankruptcy court, district court, and Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and trusts that this trend will continue,” Dunham said.

Ritzen attorneys Ramsey and Haltom did not offer comments.

The property at the heart of the original lawsuit has since been sold. Jackson Masonry sold the 4.3-acre site to Elmington Capital in March 2019.

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