Prairie Farms objects to plaintiffs' request for more time to answer discovery

Christina Stueve Hodges Aug. 23, 2012, 1:54am



Defendant Prairie Farms Dairy is objecting to the plaintiffs' request for an extension of time to answer discovery in a six-year-old Madison County breach of contract lawsuit.

Michael and Denise Richter, owners of Rich-Lane Farms, filed a lawsuit against Prairie Farms Dairy in 2006, claiming that after improving their dairy and buying stock in Prairie Farms as part of a milk marketing agreement, Prairie Farms terminated the agreement and acted oppressively to them as Prairie Farms shareholders.

The Richters filed a motion Aug. 13 for a two-week extension to respond to Prairie Farms' discovery requests.

According to the plaintiffs' motion for extension of time, one of the experts was unavailable until Aug. 22. The plaintiff would like to discuss the case with the potential expert before disclosing them as an expert, the motion states.

Madison County Circuit Judge David Hylla on July 13 ordered the Richters to respond to defendant Prairie Farms Dairy's discovery within 30 days.

Hylla also ordered the Richters to supplement discovery by Aug. 13 and to produce all documents by that date.

The Richters' motion states that it has not been brought to prejudice or delay the matter.

On Aug. 17, Prairie Farms objected to the plaintiff's request for extension of time and motion to strike.

"Despite the passage of over four months since seeking leave to disclose additional experts, Plaintiffs now complain that they were unable to finalize the identities of their actual expert witnesses within the timeframe allowed by the Court, because one of the potential experts was not available until Aug. 22," the defense stated.

"As Prairie Farms noted in its response to the plaintiffs' motion for leave to disclose additional experts, plaintiffs were already granted an additional opportunity to identify expert witnesses, and were granted a third bite at the apple on July 13, 2012," the defense said.

The plaintiffs did not comply with the July 13 order and have brought motions delaying the proceedings in this case, which has been pending for a "substantial amount of time," the defense said.

"When granted additional time by this Court, Plaintiffs persistently fail to comply with the extended deadlines allowed by this Court," according to the defense.

"Therefore, Plaintiffs have failed to properly disclose their opinion witnesses in addition to Mr. Richter and give no explanation for their failure to properly disclose the witnesses other than the one who was available," the defense stated.

"Therefore, Plaintiffs have failed to properly disclose their opinion witnesses under Supreme Court Rule, and Plaintiffs' purported disclosures of Aug. 13, 2012, should be stricken," according to the defense.

Prairie Farms Dairy requests an order denying the plaintiffs' motion for an extension of time, striking the opinion witnesses purportedly disclosed by the plaintiff on Aug. 13, 2012; entering a case management order governing the remainder of discovery and trial.

It seeks discovery of information relating to the financial condition of the plaintiffs' farm subsequent to 2005, when their membership in Prairie Farms was terminated.

"Plaintiffs' continual promises in the last four years that the information was being compiled and would be produced have remained unfulfilled, and plaintiffs' statements that the information was in the hands of its accountants have been false or inaccurate," Prairie Farms states.

Todd Sivia of Edwardsville represents the Richters.

Donald Schoemaker and Laura Oberkfell of Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale in Belleville represent Prairie Farms.

Madison County case number 06-L-892.

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