Florence Thomas Art School hearing continued

Dylan LightfootStaff

March 6, 2013

The hearing of the Paul and Florence Thomas Memorial Art School’s complaint against attorneys and trustees of the Thomas estate and Helton United Methodist Church was continued until Aug. 12, 2013, by the Ashe Superior Court Monday, March 4.

Citing the peremptorily scheduled hearing of a medical malpractice suit, Judge Edward. P Gregory said there would likely not be time to hear the case.

Jeffrey D. Patton, attorney for the art school, estimated it would take three to four hours to get through the plaintiff’s “several motions to dismiss.”

Attorneys for the Florence Thomas Living Trust, the Thomas-Plummer Trust, the Estate of Florence Thomas, Emory and Henry College and Helton United Methodist Church — which assembled looked “like half of the State Bar,” Gregory joked — gave similar estimates of their time requirements.

In addition to numerous defenses and counterclaims filed in recent months, the defendants came with new amendments and one motion to substitute counsel.

It remained for Gregory to decide whether to reschedule the hearing for April or August.

Steve M. Pharr, attorney for Emory and Henry College, said that since the pleadings in the case had only recently been closed, the defendants could use more time.

Patton asked for an earlier continuance, citing a statute of limitations defense, and expressed “serious concern” that Thomas’ trusts and estate were being depleted by the costs of litigation. “We need to get (these motions) heard now,” he said.

Gregory said that, given his concerns, Patton should file a temporary restraining order, and asked why one had not been forthcoming.

“I set the matter for Aug. 12,” Gregory said.