Hylla schedules July hearing in couple's lawsuit against Prairie Farms

By Christina Stueve | Jun 25, 2012



Madison County Circuit Judge David Hylla on Friday scheduled a July 13 hearing to address defendant Prairie Farms' 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 asked Hylla to bar the plaintiffs from presenting evidence about lost profits or income about their farming after termination as members of Prairie Farms.

Hylla also included in Friday's order that the hearing would be held on the plaintiff's motion for leave to disclose additional experts.

"Defense counsel represents that his office did not receive the plaintiff's memorandum in support filed with the court May 25. The court notes there is no executed certificate of service," Hylla wrote.

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.

"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.

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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