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Order halts Corn Plus lawsuit

By Staff | Apr 28, 2008

Bob Weerts

It may only be in the first round, but Weerts Companies in Winnebago has scored a victory in court against Corn Plus Cooperative.

Faribault County District Court Judge Douglas Richards recently signed an order halting the ethanol producer’s lawsuit.

“The supplemental conditions that are a part of the parties contractual agreement require the parties to participate in mediation and, if unsuccessful, binding arbitration,” wrote Richards.

Attorneys for Corn Plus have filed a lawsuit seeking damages for a storm water pond built by Weerts Construction in 2004.

When Weerts failed to answer the formal complaint, Corn Plus attorneys filed a default for judgment.

Whether the dispute was decided by trial or arbitration, Corn Plus attorney William Skolnick says he’s pleased they will get a chance to have their day in court.

“My client has been damaged financially and wants to be compensated. We are hopefully going to get justice,” says Skolnick.

Lawyers for Weerts say their client did not respond to the complaint because of a contract the two parties entered in April 2004.

Richards took the matter under advisement for 90 days after hearing arguments from attorneys of both parties on Feb 5.

In his order signed April 21, the judge wrote that if the parties cannot agree on an arbitrator within 21 days of his order, the court will appoint one.

According to court documents, Corn Plus paid Weerts Construction $100,000 to build a pond that would meet Minnesota Pollution Control Agency approval.

The ethanol cooperative has not determined a dollar amount it has suffered in damages, other than it is in excess of $50,000.

Corn Plus officials say in court papers that the cooperative needed to spend $300,000 to construct a storm water pond “so it could continue with its business.”