Default judgment levied against Mike Ross

Josh federal judge ordered a default judgment against Mike Ross and other defendants, in connection with a lawsuit that accused the Maryville developer of racketeering activity.

The order was handed down on Monday, and focused less on the merits of the case than on a failure by Ross' embattled legal team to hand over documents requested by the plaintiff, Robert Stooksbury.

In the order, U.S. District Judge Thomas Varlan said among other things that despite two orders of the court, Ross and other defendants failed to produce unobjectionable final and complete responses to discovery requests.

"In sum, although default judgment is an extreme sanction, all considerations indicate that default judgment should be entered ... for failing to comply with the discovery orders of the Court," the ruling said.

The order said the suit will proceed to a jury trial on February 21 for the purpose of determining damages.

Stooksbury had partnered with Ross on the Rarity Pointe project in Lenoir City, but in 2009 filed a scathing lawsuit that accused Ross and others of engaging in racketeering activity, charges that Ross denied.

Stooksbury has filed multiple lawsuits against Ross, and since the federal suit was filed in 2009, Rarity Pointe has been caught up in bankruptcy court.

The ownership entity behind the Rarity project filed for bankruptcy protection last year, just before a scheduled foreclosure auction of 184 residential lots, vacant tracts, a golf course and other property at the site. A reorganization plan filed in the case projected that over the next four to five years more than $22 million in lots and tracts could be sold at Rarity Pointe, using new pricing and a new marketing effort.

In the bankruptcy case, the entity that holds the debt on Rarity Pointe had sought to lift an automatic stay, a move that would have allowed it to foreclose on the property. Earlier this month, though, a bankruptcy judge rejected that request.