July 25, 2012BRETTON WOODS — A five-year legal battle that had prominent local families on opposite sides was decided earlier this month. In Eames v. Bedor, Superior Court Judge Richard McNamara ruled in favor of Joel Bedor and Wayne Presby against their former partners Jere and John Eames.
Individuals on both sides of the case were part of the Mount Washington Hotel Limited Partnership. The controversy centered on whether Bedor and Presby mismanaged partnership funds. Both sides presented their case to McNamara at an April bench trial in Concord.
The Partnership was vital to saving the Mount Washington Hotel from likely destruction in the early 1990s. In 1991 the group that included Bedor, Presby and the Eames bought the hotel at a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation auction. They sold it in 2006 for 27 times their original $3.15 million purchase price.
In his 28-page decision, McNamara reviewed the five arguments that the Eames used as a basis for the suit. The two primary allegations were that Bedor and Presby used hotel assets to benefit the Cog Railway, and that there was co-mingling of assets between the resort and the Cog. Bedor and Presby bought the Cog in 1983.
McNamara found that "much of the evidence demonstrates that use of Cog assets benefited the resort." There was evidence that the Cog did benefit from resort resources, but McNamara wrote, "the sum is insignificant."
On the co-mingling of funds, McNamara concluded that the resort likely benefited from such activity. "The Cog and the Resort shared marketing costs," the judge wrote. "This not only saved both entities money, but also it allowed the Resort to advertise in places it would not otherwise be permitted."
Running the Cog ski train in 2004 was another Eames concern that McNamara rejected. He concluded, "the Resort, and not the Cog, was the primary beneficiary of the Cog ski train." The train allowed skiers to ride part of the way up Mount Washington, then ski down the slope.
The Eames believed that Bedor and Presby failed to track sales and marketing time that resort employees spent on Cog activities. McNamara believed that tracking such time was possible. Nonetheless, he wrote, "the Court cannot find that the failure to keep such records constituted a breach of a fiduciary duty."
After examining all other Eames complaints, McNamara concluded that there was insufficient evidence that the Eames suffered as a result of Bedor or Presby's actions. He noted that a New Hampshire court "may not award damages for speculative losses."
Although he rejected the Eames allegations, McNamara threw out the defamation countersuit that Bedor and Presby filed. That complaint centered on an Eames letter sent to the other partners. This letter was sent based on legal advice that the Eames received.
McNamara said that Bedor and Presby were not defamed because of this letter. The Eames "undertook an investigation of the facts contained in the letter prior to circulating it," the judge found. McNamara then wrote that the Eames did not act with negligence when the letter was sent in October 2006.
Although the men were on opposite sides in the case, they all have been deeply involved in Littleton. John Eames served as Grafton County attorney for nearly 20 years. He was named Business Leader of the Year in 2010. That same year, Bedor was named Littleton's Citizen of the Year. He chaired the committee to restore the Littleton Opera House.
Jere Eames is past president of the Littleton Area Chamber of Commerce and a former Citizen of the Year.
In a statement, Presby said, "The court's decision is a vindication of our position that the allegations were totally without merit from the beginning." On Monday Bedor said, "We developed the plan of operation for the resort. The Cog was there to assist in all respects."
"The decision pretty much says it all," Bedor concluded. "Hopefully we can all move forward."
Omni Hotels currently operates the resort. It originally opened in 1902.