Dustin Johnson files amended lawsuit, names adviser Hardwick a 'pawn'
Golf Culture

Dustin Johnson files amended lawsuit, names adviser Hardwick a ‘pawn’

Dustin Johnson has changed his story.

On November 17, Johnson filed an amended lawsuit against adviser Nathan Hardwick and his former law firm, Morris Hardwick & Schneider, seeking to reclaim $3 million Johnson claims he lent to the firm as an investment with the promise of a $1 million profit in return. The father-to-be now claims Hardwick, a long-time business adviser and former board member of Johnson's foundation, was a mere pawn in swindling him.

In the original October 28 filing, Johnson claimed Hardwick convinced him to turn over the money over the summer for a "good investment" through the firm, or its Landcastle Title affiliate, to be repaid over a 30-month term. Johnson claimed Hardwick knew the loan would not be repaid, instead used to cover the firm's operating losses in a form of racketeering. Johnson filed suit after he did not receive payments on the two-and-a-half-year loan in September and October.

However, after Hardwick supplied an affidavit to Johnson's counsel, his lawyers now claim Hardwick was used by his former partners, brothers Mark and Gerard Wittstadt, to secure the funding they never intended to repay.

“The Wittstadts voluntarily and intentionally devised and participated in a scheme to defraud Johnson out of money," writes Johnson's counsel in the refiled lawsuit. "Hardwick was used as a pawn by the Wittstadts to get Johnson’s money because Hardwick played a particularly unique and significant role of trust and confidence [to Johnson].”

Hardwick resigned from the law firm of Morris Hardwick & Schneider in late August and was sued Aug. 25 by his now former firm, accusing him of embezzling $30 million from the law firm and related title firm. Hardwick was accused of systematically depleting trust accounts for both the firm and title company, but Hardwick claims the money was owed him as part of his 55.6 percent share in the companies and, therefore, their profits.

In a November filing asking for the lawsuit's dismissal, the Wittstadts claim they were unaware Hardwick had obtained what they called an unauthorized investment until Johnson’s attorneys demanded full repayment of the $4 million in an October 14 letter. The Wittstadts also blamed Johnson for not asking the firm for a written agreement guaranteeing the loan terms Hardwick purportedly offered the golfer.

Johnson's attorneys responded Monday to a second motion to dismiss, this time for the amended complaint, claiming Johnson had an executed written agreement dated August 5.

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