Barnes ordered to pay more than $6M

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DOVER — A federal judge ordered the founder of the Hermitage to fork over more than $6 million to three investors who paid to have townhomes built at the private ski and golf club in Dover and Wilmington.

The plaintiffs — RTM Capital Partners, LPV Hermitage LLC and Mathew Curtis — made down payments in the total amount of $2,080,528 to Jim Barnes and the Hermitage Inn Real Estate Holding Company for three townhomes that were never built. Because the civil suit was a consumer fraud claim, the attorneys for the plaintiffs asked the court to triple their client's investment and tack on their attorney fees in a default judgment in the amount of $6,250,976.

On Monday, the judge agreed.

"The time to answer or otherwise respond has expired," states the judgment order. "No appearance has been filed on behalf of defendant."

The civil suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont on March 29 and served on Barnes' wife at their primary residence in Avon, Conn., on May 4, according to the court documents. His deadline to file a response was May 25. In the request for a default judgment, the plaintiffs wrote Barnes "has failed to plead, file a verified answer, or otherwise defend" the accusations levied against him.

The three investors, who thought they were getting slopeside town homes at the The Hermitage Club at Haystack Mountain, only got concrete foundations, according to the initial filing. Despite assurances from Barnes in late 2017 that "progress was being made" on the units, the builder contracted to build the townhomes had actually returned the money to Barnes, state court documents.

Bob Audette can be contacted at raudette@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 151.

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