Couple's suit against Prairie Farms over milk marketing agreement set for case management

Amelia Flood Feb. 23, 2010, 10:54am


A suit brought by the owners of a Highland dairy against Prairie Farms Dairy is set for case management Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.

The owners of Rich Lane Farms allege that Prairie Farms unfairly terminated their dairy's membership in a milk marketing agreement and has failed to pay them fair market value for their common stock in Prairie Farms.

Plaintiffs Michael and Denise Richter are suing on three counts of shareholder remedies, consumer fraud and fraud.

They seek damages including the fair-market purchase of their stock, their reinstatement to the marketing agreement, $50,000 per count in damages, attorney's fees, and costs.

According to their 2006 complaint, the Richters bought common stock in Prairie Farms in 1980. The same year, they became members of Prairie Farms' dairy cooperative and entered into a milk marketing agreement. That relationship remained in effect until 2005.

The Richters allege that they expended substantial money and effort to meet the obligations of the marketing agreement and to improve their dairy.

On Oct. 6, 2005, the plaintiffs were notified by Prairie Farms that the marketing agreement and their membership in the cooperative were terminated.

Prairie Farms then allegedly offered the couple $15 for their stock.
The Richters rejected that offer.

The couple contends that Prairie Farms acted in a manner "illegal of oppressive with respect to the plaintiffs in their capacity as shareholders."

The Richters allege that they made Prairie Farms aware of a temporary stop in milk production but that they kept their herd of dairy cows in order to resume production a year later.

The couple contends the company deceived them about a clause pertaining to termination and milk production.

Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel Stack had been assigned to the case but recused himself in 2008.

Madison County Circuit Judge David Hylla is presiding.

The plaintiffs are represented by David Antognoli of Edwardsville.

Prairie Farms is represented by Donald Schoemaker.

The case is Madison case number 06-L-892.

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