Judge sets road map in suit against county historical society

Wade Young

The case against Le Sueur County Historical Society (LCHS) will get a green light or a red light in October after a Le Sueur County judge clarified matters on Monday, Sept. 17.


In court were Ray Konz, attorney for LCHS, and Kevin Wetherille, attorney for the 16 plaintiffs. The attorneys discussed the proceedings thus far and made several requests of Judge Mark Vandelist.


The plaintiffs filed suit on February 21, 2018, alleging closed-door actions, murkey financial dealings and anti-democratic processes, which are contrary to Minnesota law and the LCHS bylaws. They seek governing documents, financial disclosures, and a “democratic” election for a board of directors. 


The historical society responded on March 28 by saying all but two of the plaintiffs are not members, and seeks to throw out the suit on the grounds the plaintiffs’ numbers are far less than ten percent, which is required under state law to bring on the suit. According to Wetherille, all of the plaintiffs were members at the end of 2017, but society officials did not renew their applications when it asked for renewals to establish an official 2018 membership list.


By the plaintiffs’ calculations, 16 members represent about 25 percent of the voting power of the 81 members they believe LCHS has based on records from October and December meetings. On Monday, Wetherille told Vandelist they also plan to amend the complaint by adding up to 15 additional plaintiffs who indicated they want to be part of the suit.


Konz said the issue of the plaintiffs’ membership standings could lead to a speedy resolution.


“We have a motion to dismiss (the suit) on the basis of standing, but additional parties have been proposed this late in the game whose identities are not known to us,” he said. 


Wetherille said that information will be provided once the motion is filed in two weeks.


Vandelist was perplexed as to why things hadn’t been progressing thus far. 


“When we left here in May, everything was unicorns and daisies, and here we are again,” Vandelist said.


Wetherille emphasized the case needs deadlines to keep it moving along.


The judge kept the October 18 court date and added additional dates in February, with a trial tentatively scheduled for March 18, 2019.


Read more in the print edition.


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