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Published December 01, 2010, 01:40 PM

Dakota Beef’s suit against former CEO dismissed

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a South Dakota organic beef company’s lawsuit against its former chief executive that had accused him of profiting from side ventures, running up more than $67,000 in personal charges on a company credit card and forming a competing company.

By: Dirk Lammers, Associated Press

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a South Dakota organic beef company’s lawsuit against its former chief executive that had accused him of profiting from side ventures, running up more than $67,000 in personal charges on a company credit card and forming a competing company.

In June, Howard Venture LLC, doing business as Dakota Beef, filed the suit in U.S. District Court against Scott D. Lively and his Lively Foods LLC.

Lively filed a counterclaim, saying Howard Venture owed him wages and expense account reimbursement, interfered with his business relationships and defamed him.

Both sides agreed to drop their claims, and Judge Lawrence Piersol signed the order to dismiss on Tuesday.

Dakota Beef in 2009 fell into foreclosure, and its assets and name were purchased by Howard Venture.

Lively’s attorney, Andrew Damgaard, argued in court documents that Howard Venture was not entitled to enforce Dakota Beef’s noncompete agreement with Lively because it never was his boss.

“In short, Howard Venture was not and has never been Lively’s employer,” Damgaard said.

Lively’s counterclaim also accused Howard Venture of making false, misleading and defamatory statements about Lively and his company, causing him lost business and harm to his reputation.

Lively declined to comment on the case when reached by telephone Wednesday.

Dakota Beef’s Howard plant was also the scene of an immigration raid in which Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents executed arrest warrants and several Hispanic employees ran out of the plant.

Dakota Beef in February 2009 pleaded guilty to federal charges that it knowingly hired 15 illegal immigrants in 2007 and 2008 to work at its organic meatpacking plant. The company was sentenced to five years of probation and a $45,000 fine, the maximum allowed under the law.

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