LOGAN — In a new legal dispute relating to a much-contested Hocking County adventure park property, a Canal Winchester, Ohio-based company has sued a local man, claiming he has deliberately sabotaged the site and tried to keep it from opening.
Austin Stemen, who manages the Ultimate Zipline Adventures park for Eventuresencore, Inc., stressed Thursday that this destructive activity has stopped, and has not affected safety conditions at the park. All the ziplines and cables are regularly inspected to ensure their safety, he said.
“Nothing is unsafe at the park, and never will be,” Stemen said. He noted that the defendant in the lawsuit and alleged saboteur, Mark Anthony, has been legally forbidden to come onto the property. Though Anthony was once hired to do some work for Eventuresencore, he added, he no longer has any involvement with the business.
The zipline park, set to open for the season April 10, is located on state Route 664 South. Its address is the same location that once was home to Hocking Peaks Adventure Park. That business is at the center of an ongoing money and real estate battle that began eight years ago, has been litigated in Hocking County Common Pleas Court and Ohio’s 4th District Court of Appeals, and isn’t over yet.
Now the new adventure park on the site has generated its own litigation, in which the main defendant, Anthony, is a former business partner in Hocking Peaks and one of the parties to its interminable legal fight.
In its lawsuit filed March 4 in Hocking County Common Pleas Court, Eventuresencore states that last May it entered into an agreement with Evergreen Site Holdings, Inc., one-time owner of the Route 664 site, to lease the property. (Stemen of Eventuresencore said that the property is actually now in receivership, and the company is leasing it from the receiver.)
Evergreen, which is not a party to Eventuresencore’s lawsuit, is named as a defendant in the Hocking Peaks-related lawsuit filed by Anthony’s former business partner in Hocking Peaks, Karry Gemmell. He alleges that Evergreen obtained the land fraudulently through an insider deal with a company owned by Anthony; Evergreen has denied the allegation, and maintains that it acted in good faith in the land transfer.
Eventuresencore leased the site with the aim of using it to operate a business featuring a zipline tour, a paintball arena, a Frisbee golf course, food trucks, and other recreational activities. At the time the lease was signed, the lawsuit says, Anthony was living on the property.
Eventuresencore says it then entered into a business agreement with Anthony, paying him around $25,000 to do various construction work including installation of ziplines. About two months later, the lawsuit alleges, Anthony began sabotaging the property and Eventuresencore’s efforts to open the business. His alleged actions included removing construction materials from the site to his own property and refusing to return them.
Around Aug. 3, 2020, the complaint alleges, Anthony started making threats that he would “remove and destroy fixtures necessary to operate the zipline tour of the park,” stating in one message to the company that he was going to “cut it all down.” He also is alleged to have used heavy equipment to cut the power line to the zipline tour, to have used heavy equipment to damage the site’s driveway and landscaping, and to have blocked access to the site with large vehicles, in one instance requiring the park to shut down and cancel all its reservations.
In what would appear to have been a possibly related event, the Hocking County Sheriff’s Office reported that on March 7 of this year, someone used a vehicle to tow a pre-fabricated storage shed off of the property and take it to an adjacent site.
Echoing allegations in Gemmell’s lawsuit, Eventuresencore alleges that since late July 2020 Anthony “has engaged in a scheme to defraud (Eventuresencore) and other creditors by transferring assets” to an unidentified “John Doe” business entity he owns.
The suit lodges counts against Anthony of breach of contract, conversion, tortious interference with a business relationship, and fraudulent conveyance. It asks for judgment against Anthony of at least $25,000, and a judgment declaring that any transfers of property from Anthony to the “John Doe” defendant are void, and that Anthony must pay any judgment out of his own assets.
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