Grella asks court to dismiss NEXA lawsuit over breach of contract, defamation

The document was filed on Monday in a superior court in Arizona; NEXA expects the request to be denied

Former NEXA Mortgage President Mat Grella filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit in which the company accuses him of causing the failure of a hangar-office property purchase and acting to defame his business partner Mike Kortas

According to the document, filed on Monday in a superior court in Maricopa, Arizona, the lawsuit is the “handiwork” of Kortas. It said that the claims are defective, fail on numerous grounds and should be dismissed. 

James Brody, a senior partner at Garris Horn and an attorney for NEXA, said the company expects the court to “quickly and summarily deny” the request. The company’s opposition to the motion is due on July 15.

NEXA accuses Grella of tortious interference when he sent messages to broker, seller and title company stating that the company was not authorized to purchase a five-acre airplane hangar leasehold in Mesa, Arizona, for $23.95 million. The communication caused the transaction to fail. 

Grella reportedly told the seller and title company that he did not consent to the purchase, which was required by a member-unanimity rule of NEXA’s operating agreement. At that time, “nothing about Grella’s truthful communication as to his consent and legal position was improper — a required element for tortious interference,” the motion to dismiss states.  

“NEXA complains that Grella somehow defrauded the $24 million hangar sellers — but one cannot bring a fraud claim based on someone else allegedly being fooled,” the document reads. “NEXA claims that Grella breached his fiduciary duty to the company — but as a member of a manager-managed company at the time of the alleged misconduct, he had no such duty.”

Kortas and Grella founded NEXA in 2017 after they left Equity Prime Mortgage. As of Wednesday, NEXA was the largest U.S. mortgage brokerage firm, with 2,570 licensed loan officers and 239 active branches, per the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS).

In March, Grella was terminated from NEXA amid buyout negotiations and a lawsuit that accused Kortas of making aircraft-related purchases with company money without Grella’s consent, which Kortas denies. 

“NEXA accuses me of informing a title company that I didn’t consent to a deal to buy a $24 million aircraft hangar, and thereby somehow defrauded the hangar sellers, who aren’t even parties to the litigation,” Grella wrote to HousingWire. “NEXA also baselessly alleges that I defamed the company, for which it identifies no actual statements that are allegedly defamatory, as required.”

According to Grella, NEXA filed the complaint to “distract” from his original lawsuit against Kortas, which accuses his former partner of breaching fiduciary duties as manager of NEXA and its operating agreement, which requires profits to be distributed equally and for both partners to consent to activities not directly related to mortgage brokerage purposes.

“Kortas fired me after I raised concerns about his misconduct,” Grella added. “I am deeply proud of what we have built at NEXA and hope these issues can be resolved in a way that protects the company’s best interests.”

NEXA’s attorney, Brody, said that numerous allegations in the motion to dismiss appear to “lack merit.” He added that as Arizona is a notice-pleading state, the court must generally accept all the allegations as being true, provide NEXA the benefit of every possible inference, and will simply focus on whether the alleged facts fit within any cognizable legal theory.

“As NEXA’s complaint contains all the factual allegations that it needs to contain to comply with Arizona’s Notice Pleading standards, as well as the fact that the appropriate time to set forth all the supporting facts will be during the discovery phase of this case, we again fully expect that the Court will quickly and summarily deny Grella’s motion to dismiss,” Brody said. 

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