NEW LONDON–In the latest round of a battle by GOSA and F.L. Merritt Inc. to save a Merritt family property in Groton as open space, Superior Court Judge D. Michael Hurley heard arguments July 6, 2004, on a motion by Ravenswood Construction LLC to strike a counterclaim by F.L. Merritt Inc.

Merritt is seeking damages from Ravenswood, a Cheshire construction company that wants to build 48 houses on the property, located on Fort Hill. Merritt alleges that Ravenswood is interfering with Merritt’s contract dated April 14, 2003, to sell the 75-acre property to GOSA for $1 million. Ravenswood has tied up the contract by filing a suit against Merritt. GOSA has voluntarily joined the suit as a defendant. The counterclaim by Merritt is part of that suit.

Ravenswood has charged that it had a prior contract with Merritt. Nelson Merritt, president of F.L. Merritt, signed such a paper but held it pending receipt of required documents from Ravenswood. These documents were not forthcoming. Merritt then excised the signature and returned the invalid contract to Ravenswood before signing with GOSA.

Merritt says in the counterclaim that Ravenswood harmed Merritt by misrepresentation when it agreed to a rider to the contract that specified the contract would not be valid until delivered, signed and sealed, to the buyer. Ravenswood never repudiated its statement that the rider was acceptable, and Merritt relied on that statement, Merritt’s lawyer, William Kroll of Noank, said.

Ravenswood’s lawyer, Paul Geraghty, appeared to contend in court July 6 that at the time Ravenswood said the rider was acceptable, it believed that such was the case and thus isn’t guilty of misrepresentation.

GOSA was represented at the hearing by Attorney William Hescock, of North Stonington.

Judge Hurley took the arguments under deliberation.