Defendant Prairie Farms Dairy files motion for sanctions

By Christina Stueve | Jun 19, 2012


Defendant Prairie Farms Dairy has filed a motion for sanctions in a lawsuit filed against the company by Michael and Denise Richter, owners of Rich-Lane Farms.

The Richters claim in their 2006 lawsuit 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 the plaintiffs as Prairie Farms shareholders.

Prairie Farms has asked presiding Circuit Judge Dave Hylla to bar the plaintiffs from presenting evidence about lost profits or income about their farming after termination as members of Prairie Farms.

In the June 14 filing, Prairie Farms also asked that Hylla strike the plaintiffs' disclosure of Michael Richter as a controlled expert witness regarding lost income.

The company claims discovery has been ongoing for nearly six years.

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

The plaintiffs have not produced profit and loss statements, income statements, balance sheets, tax returns and auditor letters after 2005, which would reflect sales of plaintiffs' products and livestock, income, debts, and liabilities necessary to full discovery regarding the profits of the plaintiffs' farm, according to Prairie Farm's motion.

Despite pursuing every avenue available to obtain information, Prairie Farms has not obtained the financial information and documents, the motion states.

"Nonetheless, apparently without financial information or documentary support whatsoever post-dating 2005, Michael Richter is poised to render the 'opinion' that he has 'lost' $1.5 million due to the actions of the defendant," it states.

"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."

On May 11, the Richters had asked for more time to file a memorandum, to which Prairie Farms objected.

Hylla ruled in favor of the Richters and wrote no further extensions would be granted.

Defense attorney Donald Schoemaker certified nearly four months ago that he mailed documents to fulfill the plaintiffs' request for information.

The plaintiffs were ordered to provide affidavits of compliance.

Attorney David Antognoli of Edwardsville withdrew his representation of the Richters.

Todd Sivia currently represents the Richters.

Laura Hayden also represents Prairie Farms. Shoemaker and Hayden are with Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale in Belleville.

Madison County case number 06-L-892.

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