Dunton wins suit vs. Rhodes on land in Golden Valley

KINGMAN - Local developer Scott Dunton has faced Las Vegas developer Jim Rhodes and won. Dunton confirmed Tuesday afternoon that a judge and a jury of eight had ruled unanimously in his favor in a civil suit against Rhodes' Design and Development Corporation, American Land Management and Matt Lawson.

According to court transcripts of the trial, Judge Randolph Bartlett ordered Rhodes and the other defendants to honor the contract with Walnut Creek Estates Development Company, McAlister Investments and Dunton and Dunton, LLC. That contract would give Dunton and the other plaintiffs approximately 1,897 acres worth of land.

Bartlett also awarded Dunton reasonable attorney's fees and taxable costs incurred in the case. Dunton and his attorneys are supposed to submit the amount of the fees and costs to the court at a later date.

It took approximately 40 minutes, Dunton said, for the jury to return with its unanimous verdict. According to witnesses, Jim Rhodes did not attend any part of the trial or hear the verdict.

Dunton and McAlister Investments sued Rhodes and the other defendants for specific performance of contract, breach of contract, common law fraud and intentional misrepresentation. According to court documents, in October 2004 Dunton and Rhodes were both attempting to purchase more than 5,100 acres of land from Yandell Trust. During the negotiations, Rhodes and Dunton realized that it would be better if the two of them teamed up and purchased the land together.

The two entered into an agreement where Dunton would withdraw his bid. Rhodes would purchase the property and then sell part of it to Dunton.

According to court documents, Dunton and his partner, McAlister Investments, were supposed to open a separate escrow account and deposit $350,000 in order to pay for their share of the property. Rhodes was supposed to use the money in the escrow to help purchase the property. Once Rhodes purchased the property, he was supposed to sell 1,897 acres to Dunton and McAlister for $5.1 million.

According to Dunton's complaint, he and McAlister fulfilled their end of the agreement. They pulled their bid for the property and opened the escrow account.

Rhodes, through a "Charles Sakura", negotiated a separate agreement with Yandell Trust to purchase the land. The land was then assigned to American Land, which is believed to be a subsidiary company of Rhodes.

According to the complaint, in January 2005 Rhodes refused to acknowledge the contract. After several attempts to get Rhodes to honor the agreement, Dunton and McAlister sued him.