Prairie Farms seeks venue transfer in farmers’ lawsuit

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Oct 28, 2013


Defendant Prairie Farms Dairy seeks to transfer a lawsuit filed by farmers who claim they were terminated from an agricultural cooperative.

Defendant Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc. filed its motion to transfer venue on Oct. 18, through attorneys Donald K. Schoemaker and Laura C. Oberkfell of Greensfelder, Jemker & Gale in Belleville.

Prairie Farms claims the plaintiff’s complaint alleges a cause of action entitled Derivative Action for Shareholder Remedies according to Article 12 of the Business Corporation Act of 1939, which states actions must “be commenced in the circuit court of the county in which either the registered or principal office of the corporation is located.”

Because Prairie Farms does not maintain a registered office, venue should be transferred to its principal office in Carlinville, located in Macoupin County, it claims.

“Thus, under the venue provisions applicable to this cause, Prairie Farms is not a resident of Madison County in that it has neither registered office nor its principal office there, such that there is absolutely no basis for venue in Madison County,” the motion states.

According to the complaint filed Sept. 6, Michael and Denise Richter claim they purchased common stock and joined Prairie Farms Dairy as members in 1980 and entered into a milk marketing agreement.

The Richters claim they invested “substantial” amounts of capital and labor into the marketing agreement, under the belief that they would remain members of Prairie Farms for as long as they wished.

On Oct. 6, 2005, however, the Richters learned that Prairie Farms terminated their membership and gave them $15 to redeem their common stock.

Prior to the termination, the plaintiffs temporarily stopped milk production, but hoped to resume within the next year. They even kept their heifers for future production, the suit states.

The Richters claim they were unaware that their membership interest in Prairie Farms was subject to forfeiture for lack of patronage, since they planned on resuming milk production within one year.

The plaintiffs seek a judgment of more than $200,000 and an order to purchase their common stock for its fair value.

The plaintiffs also filed similar claims in 2006, litigated the lawsuit for six years and finally filed a motion to dismiss without prejudice in September 2012, which Circuit Judge David Hylla granted.

Madison County Circuit Judge Andreas Matoesian scheduled a case management conference for Dec. 18 at 9 a.m.

Todd W. Sivia and Jordan P. Koerner of Sivia Business and Legal Services in Edwardsville are representing the plaintiffs.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 13-L-1522

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