Judge orders LCHS to turn over records, adds members to lawsuit

By: 
Wade Young

A Le Sueur County judge has ordered the Le Sueur County Historical Society (LCHS) to turn over all of its financial records and books, hold a fair and democratic election for members, and allow the additional members to join the lawsuit against it, among other things.

This order was filed on November 8.

A lawsuit was filed against LCHS on February 21 by 16 members who allege the existing board of LCHS has mismanaged the society, has murky financial dealings, and followed anti-democratic processes, which, they state are contrary to Minnesota law and LCHS bylaws.

Attorneys have gone back and forth since and failed to use binding arbitration to solve the issue of membership, so Le Sueur County Judge Mark Vandelist took action after a hearing on October 18. He appointed retired judge Jack Van De North as a special master to act as an intermediary between the parties in the lawsuit and the court. Vandelist said the special master will “hear disputes in a more timely, efficient and effective manner.”

According to court documents, Vandelist is ordering LCHS to do several things by specific deadlines. On the list are:

• Provide all of its books and records from January 1, 2014, to date within 14 days of the order to the society members (November 22). Certain documents can be marked confidential or privileged by LCHS, but Van De North will have the authority to determine if the documents remain that way.

All of the documents will then be given to the plaintiffs’ attorneys with specific instructions so society members can review them.

• Van De North will also have the authority to determine the current members of the society and who will be allowed to vote at subsequent meetings. He will also be able to determine the validity of any rejection of membership and the cutoff date for new members to vote in subsequent elections of officers.

• Vandelist’s order also states that LCHS needs to provide all the financial records, including bank statements, ledgers, property holdings, information on assets, financial reports, information on liabilities … etc to its members.

Read more in the print edition.

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