Attorneys for Mark and Rod Wittstadt have fired back at Dustin Johnson and his lawsuit against a former advisor, resubmitting a motion to dismiss on Monday in U.S. District Court.
The Wittstadts, who are partners at the firm Morris, Schneider & Wittstadt, were named co-defendants along with Nathan Hardwick in Johnson’s suit that alleges 17 counts of racketeering and fraud.
According to Johnson’s amended complaint, Hardwick convinced the eight-time PGA Tour winner to loan the firm $3 million as “a good investment” and that the Wittstadt’s firm would guarantee the loan and a $1 million profit.
Johnson’s complaint claims the Wittstadts and their firm, “threatened to disclose private and confidential information about Johnson, which they learned in the course of their representation of Johnson as attorney, should he commence a lawsuit to seek repayment of the money.”
In the Hardwick’s motion to dismiss, their attorneys claim Johnson’s lawsuit is a “shotgun pleading” and that the amended complaint “fares no better than his first whiff, and the court should dismiss.”
“Johnson’s new yarn, that he and his friend (Hardwick) are patsies in a complex, serpentine fraud scheme, would be even more laughable but for the damage that such patently false allegations cause to the reputations of good lawyers who are, without any question, the true victims here,” wrote the Wittstadt’s attorney William Holley.
Hardwick, an advisor for Johnson who served on the board of his foundation, has been accused of embezzling $30 million from Morris/Schneider/Wittstadt, and Johnson’s complaint claims his $3 million loan was used to replace those funds.
Johnson wired the $3 million loan to the firm’s “equity partners account” on Aug. 6 and news of Hardwick’s embezzlement became public on Aug. 27.
“Had Johnson performed any diligence, called the Wittstadts, required a written agreement, contacted his financial advisor, sent an email to the Wittstadts, anything, he would have known that he had no agreement with the Wittstadts. Doing nothing kills his claim,” Holley wrote in his motion.
The motion also claims that the Wittstadts were not Johnson’s legal representation and that they never issued any guarantees for his loan.
“That's outrageous,” David Cornwell, Johnson’s attorney, told the DailyReportonline.com earlier this month. “In fact, they've just admitted they're liable. (Hardwick) was their partner; he acted as their representative, they received Dustin's money, it was wired to their law firm. If they didn't know anything about it, why did they spend Dustin's money?”
Johnson has not played on Tour since the Canadian Open in July, taking a leave of absence to deal with “personal challenges.” On Aug. 1, Golf.com reported Johnson was serving a six-month suspension for failing his third drug test.
According to various reports, he plans to return to the Tour early next year.