Attorneys for co-op members answer back

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Attorneys representing member-owners of Socorro Electric Cooperative on Thursday filed a motion for leave to amended a countersuit against the co-op. Also filed on Thursday were five responses to the flurry of motions Socorro Electric submitted in recent weeks.

A telephonic hearing to sort out some of the many issues now before the court will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Monday.

William “Bill” Ikard, of Austin, Texas, electronically submitted the latest filings in 13th Judicial District Court in Los Lunas, where Socorro Electric originally brought suit against all of its approximately 10,000 members in an effort to block new bylaws that require the co-op to operate with greater transparency.

Judge Albert J. Mitchell, appointed to hear the case by the New Mexico Supreme Court, ruled against the co-op last May, saying the bylaws were valid and were properly adopted.

In the meantime, Ikard, working in concert with the Deschamps & Kortemeier law firm of Socorro, filed a countersuit against nine members of the co-op’s board of trustees, four former trustees and the co-op’s former general manager, charging breach of fiduciary duty and fraud. The countersuit requests class action certification and named District 5 trustee Charlie Wagner, a leader in the movement to reform the co-op, as a class representative.

Judge Mitchell has yet to decide whether he’ll grant class action certification, but has opened discovery on the issue and set dates for three additional hearings for later this year.

The motion to amend the countersuit now lists Herbert Myers of Socorro and Carol Auffrey of Quemado as class representatives.

“As this case has evolved, defendants wish to amend to avoid any potential conflict between the originally named putative class representative and the members of the putative class,” the motion reads. “Defendants do not admit that a conflict existed or does exist; they wish to amend merely to avoid any possible conflicts in the future.”

The motion states that the change has been discussed with the co-op’s lawyers and that they will oppose it.

The responses address motions submitted to the court by Socorro Electric on Jan. 25.

They are:

  • A motion for partial summary judgment as to claims involving voting rights;
  • A motion to dismiss based on pleading rules;
  • A motion to dismiss for lack of standing;
  • A motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction;
  • A motion to dismiss for failure to join an indispensable party.

 


-- Email the author at tslast@dchieftain.com.

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