A Fresno, Calif., RV dealership and three of its employees have been ordered to pay more than $4.5 million for defaming a competing dealership.

The Merced Sun Star reported that Fresno County Superior Court Judge Jeff Hamilton concluded that Paul Evert’s RV Country and three of its employees — owner Paul Evert, vice president and general manager Charles Curtis and finance manager Aaron Lyon — tried to put Bob Brewer’s companies, which included Clovis RV and Fresno RV, out of business by spreading rumors they were under investigation by state regulators.

Clovis RV ultimately did close at the end of 2009.

In his initial ruling last October, Hamilton concluded that Fresno RV had been defamed and awarded the company $500,000 in damages. Last Friday, Hamilton awarded punitive damages: $4.08 million.

The case revolved around the actions of employee Lyon, who was fired by Paul Evert’s RV Country in March 2007, then went to work for Clovis RV as finance manager.

While at Clovis RV, Lyon became romantically involved with the office manager, who later sought a restraining order against him. Lyon blamed Brewer for his breakup with her.

In July 2009, months after the office manager parted ways with him, Lyon abruptly quit Clovis RV. He told the office manager and another industry associate that that he was going to “take Bob Brewer down.”

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