THORNTON | A co-owner of Country Partners, a corporation that helps run a livestock facility in Thornton, is suing his business partner for about $4.5 million in damages because of alleged mismanagement that caused the corporation to accumulate about that much debt.

Dennis Hill, of Stanhope, filed a petition earlier this month through Des Moines-based attorney Jason Lawrence in Cerro Gordo County District Court against Brent Luscombe, of Thornton. Hill and Luscombe are equal co-owners of Country Partners.

Luscombe filed a response through Waterloo-based attorney Erich Priebe on Wednesday, which acknowledged Country Partners was in debt but denied that Luscombe mismanaged the corporation.

Priebe also filed a counterclaim against Hill, stating his failure "to properly monitor and manage the hedging account for County Partners" resulted in losses of about $130,000. His response also claims Hill's failure to raise the hogs in his nursery facility "resulted in disproportionate death losses" and cost both himself and Luscombe a substantial amount of money.

Both Lawrence and Priebe declined comment on the case when contacted by phone earlier this week.

Country Partners was established back in March 2000 to help run Luscombe Enterprises, owned by Brent and his wife, Michelle, at 7442 Balsam Ave. in Thornton, according to court documents.

The latter is the corporation that directly runs the livestock producer in Thornton, while Country Partners would borrow money to finance piglets and their food, the original petition states.

In that petition, Lawrence states that Country Partners' $4.5 million in debt was almost fully owed to Green Belt Bank and Trust, the main bank Country Partners did business with. It also claims Brent Luscombe admitted to Hill that he falsified the corporation's loan applications, tax returns and other corporate documents.

Priebe denied the latter allegations in his response, but admitted "Country Partners owes certain debts to Green Belt Bank and Trust for business loans." He denied other allegations related to the total amount of debt "for lack of information."

Throughout the original petition, Lawrence states that Luscombe admitted to Hill that Country Partners was in legal trouble. In one exchange on Sept. 12, Luscombe allegedly urged Hill to not dig into any of the corporation's records.

"I hope your attorneys don't dig too deep into the records because I don't want to spend the next few years in prison," Luscombe allegedly told Hill.

Priebe denied this happened in his response.

Luscombe faces counts related to not allowing Hill to see Country Partners' corporate records, along with two counts of breach of fiduciary duty, according to the original petition. Priebe resisted all those counts in his response.

A trial date has not yet been set.

Contact Steve at 641-421-0527 or on Twitter @Steve_Bohnel.

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