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Book rental company owners smacked with $18M verdict

The co-owners of an embattled online textbook rental company have been ordered to pay more than $18 million to Charlotte-based multimedia distributor Baker & Taylor. One of the owners also is on the hook for $8.7 million in books

A jury in Charlotte determined on Oct. 30 that David Griffin, co-owner of the College Book Rental Company, owed $18,304,464 to Baker & Taylor. A directed verdict for the same amount was entered against Griffin’s business partner and co-defendant, Charles Jones.

U.S. District Court Judge Max Cogburn Jr. of Charlotte found that Jones had confessed to owing Baker & Taylor $8.7 million in interest on the debt, which means he faces a judgment of more than $27 million.

According to the lawsuit, the College Book Rental Company, or CBR, failed to pay for hundreds of thousands of textbooks that it began ordering in bulk from Baker & Taylor in 2011.

Baker & Taylor, one of the world’s largest distributors of books, movies and music, asserted that Griffin and Jones had personally guaranteed to pay for the orders and that CBR owed 18 percent per annum interest on the debt.

Attorneys for Baker & Taylor and Jones did not respond to interview requests.

Griffin’s attorney, James Gatehouse of Rayburn, Cooper & Durham in Charlotte, said his client planned to appeal the jury verdict.

“We think we have a good chance of success,” he said. He declined to discuss the case further.

Griffin filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Tennessee on behalf of CBR in 2012, shortly after several major publishers accused the company of copyright infringement. The suits were later dropped.

CBR listed about $15 million in debt in its bankruptcy petition. Baker & Taylor is named among the creditors in the action.

Follow Phillip Bantz on Twitter @NCLWBantz


Case name: Baker & Taylor v. David Griffin, Charles Jones and the College Book Rental Company

Court: U.S. District Court, Charlotte

Date of verdict: Oct. 30

Amount: $18,304,464, plus $8.7 million in interest against Jones

Attorneys for plaintiff: Gavin Parsons and Bennet Moskowitz of Troutman Sanders, Raleigh and New York, respectively

Attorneys for defendants: Christopher Chagaris of Davidson (for Jones) and James Gatehouse of Rayburn, Cooper & Durham, Charlotte (for Griffin)


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