The Riverview at Dobson developers appear to have come up empty in their goal to force former Mesa legislator Jeff Groscost and three Valley Business Owners members to testify under oath before next month’s election.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Cathy Holt ruled Monday that all depositions in the developers’ defamation lawsuit against Valley Business Owners members David Molina and Jan Hibbard are on hold. A new hearing date was set for May 9 — just eight days before the May 17 election.
Groscost attorney Chuck Blanchard called it a blow to the developers’ attempt to use Groscost to "get feed for their TV ads before the May 17 election."
Scott Salmon, an attorney representing Riverview’s Kimco Developers and De Rito Partners Development, accused the defense of "stonewalling" and did not rule out the possibility of pre-election depositions. "It could happen," Salmon said.
The defamation lawsuit filed in November centers on the phrase "Spanishlanguage theaters" in a Valley Business Owners flier and its Web site during the signature-gathering process.
The developers allege that phrase was used to capitalize on racist tendencies, but Molina maintains Mesa Councilman Mike Whalen told him that Spanishlanguage theaters would be part of the project. Whalen could not be reached for comment Monday.
Salmon said Groscost’s $19,000 donation to Valley Business Owners that paid for the referendum effort makes his testimony relevant to this case. Groscost — a consultant for the developer of competing Tempe Marketplace — would have been asked where he received his $19,000, Salmon said. Groscost has said he used his own money.
If Propositions 300, 301 and 302 are approved, the 250-acre Riverview project at Loop 202 and Dobson Road is expected to include a Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, Cinemark movie theaters, Wal-Mart Supercenter, auto dealerships and a business park.