Court victories in $2 million defamation judgment leaves plaintiff short on vindication
Fargo-Moorhead businessman seeks to have his reputation restored after relentless drug rumors upended his life.
April 15, 2020
WEST FARGO, NORTH DAKOTA (April 14, 2020) – The plaintiff in a defamation lawsuit said today that he has again been vindicated by a North Dakota court ruling that turned away the effort by defendants to seek a new trial regarding a $2 million award handed down by a North Dakota jury.
But despite the recent court affirmation, Aaron Greterman’s reputation as a businessman, husband and father remains seriously damaged by the false accusations and rumors born nearly three years ago that he was a cocaine user who used the illegal drug during a golf tournament attended by some of the most influential people in Fargo-Moorhead.
The nine-person jury in Clay County District Court sat through a nine-day trial that covered 1,500 transcript pages, dozens of exhibits and a cattle call of witnesses before rendering its unanimous verdict: The club and three men defamed Greterman and were deemed responsible for the bulk of the $2-plus million.
Money was paid to Greterman, but there has yet to be an admission by anyone who wronged him. And during the initial trial and the failed appeal, no one for the defense offered any plausible evidence to support the cocaine rumors.
“They doubled down and tried to cover for their wrongdoing. They attacked him relentlessly throughout the process,” said Greterman’s attorney, Andrew Parker. “It was repeated reputational assassination resulting in the destruction in someone’s life.”
It was a mere off-handed and lighthearted comment at the Oxbow Country Club by Greterman that his golf buddies in the summer of 2017 ran with to ignite false and damaging rumors that nearly three years later leave him yearning to be made whole in more ways than money can provide.
At the tournament, Greterman added an essential oil to a drink for a boost of energy. Fellow participant Dave Campbell asked what Greterman was adding to his drink.
Greterman, who built a successful business in luxury home real estate, replied, “The best energy shot you’ve ever had; it’s like liquid cocaine.”
Campbell, however, wrongly spread rumors that Greterman was doing cocaine and offering it to others.
From that exchange, Greterman’s reputation eroded with each passing of the false account among his fellow real estate agents, bankers, lawyers, insurance agents, country club members, and many others around the Fargo-Moorhead area.
“I really just wanted to put my head in the sand and let this go away,” Greterman said, explaining that he initially resisted seeking vindication in court and just wanted those who spawned the rumors to go back and correct the lies they were spreading.
Negative drug testing proved unconvincing to his adversaries. “It was like trying to stop a large boulder from rolling down a large mountain,” he said. “To have an entire town at you and bullying you, that’s a scary deal.”
Greterman also pointed out that "when we hear gossip, as a society, we almost want to believe it, because in a twisted way we feel better about ourselves. It is our duty as a society to not speak or spread anything that we did not witness personally, and even then, remember that words matter and a bell can't be unrung."
Greterman’s business suffered as he initially resisted legal action before deciding to sue those responsible – and won. It got so bad he had to leave town to try to earn a living for his family as his business had dried up. After the forced exodus out of state from the community he loves and has called home for so many years, Greterman is back in Fargo running his own business, Dream Real Estate.
“This case was about the single most important thing that we own, and that is our name,” Parker said to the jurors who ultimately ruled in his client’s favor. “Lies and slander are the epitome of evil, and they can really destroy somebody.”
**Attention Reporters & Editors – All of the pertinent public records filed in this case are available by request. And the newsmakers quoted in this release are available for interviews. To make coordinating and scheduling easy and hassle-free, contact publicist Robb Leer 612.701.0608 or email firstname.lastname@example.org To learn more about the lawyers in this case Parker – Daniels – Kibort http://www.parkerdk.com