$18.3 million lawsuit resolved

Chuck Jones, former businessman and philanthropist in Murray, has been the object of headlines over the last two years, with a recent multi-million dollar settlement putting him back in the news.

Kent Wicker, attorney for Chuck Jones, said the latest trial in North Carolina related to debts owed to book supplier Baker & Taylor. Baker & Taylor had supplied books to Jones and David Griffin’s textbook companies before the companies went bankrupt, and they said they were owed a guaranteed amount.

Wicker said Jones accepted that he had signed a guarantee to the amount owed to the supplier, but Griffin didn’t believe he was a part of the guarantee, and shouldn’t owe the book supplier.

“The issue was whether Griffin was obligated on a personal guarantee to Baker & Taylor,” Wicker said.

Wicker said the jury agreed with Baker & Taylor, and the amount of judgment was $18.3 million to be paid by Griffin and Jones, who did not go to trial. They also must pay  $8.7 million in interest.

Griffin’s attorney declined to comment.

According to an article in The Tennessean, Jones and Griffin’s company College Book Renter went bankrupt in 2013. After a “legal dispute” between Jones and Griffin, Griffin bought College Book Renter and moved the company to Nashville, Tenn.

Prior to 2012, College Book Renter had 126 full time employees and nearly $20 million in revenue.

Jones was Murray’s 2011 Citizen of the Year, and his philanthropy was noted in an article by the Murray Ledger & Times in December 2011. That year, Jones gave $140,000 to United Way, as well as $20,000 to Need Line of Murray.

Griffin partnered with Jones in many of his business ventures.

According to a 2013 article published by the Murray Ledger & Times, Griffin was the first person to file suit against Jones in February 2012. That suit was later dropped, along with two other suits against Jones.

The other two suits included a copyright infringement lawsuit against Jones by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., Pearson Education, Inc. and Cengage Learning, Inc. as well as a lawsuit by Jones’ former college book rental company.

The Murray Ledger & Times article said Griffin filed a second suit against Jones Oct. 16, 2013, in Calloway County Circuit Court. That led to a countersuit from Jones. Griffin made a motion to dismiss the countersuit, and the motion was granted in September 2014. Those suits are still pending.

Story by Kate Russell, Staff writer