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Published November 18, 2013, 10:43 AM

Legal issues still swirl

Legal issues are pending on various fronts involving Anderson Seed Inc., a defunct company that was headquartered in Mentor, Minn.

By: Mikkel Pates, Agweek

FARGO, N.D. — Legal issues are pending on various fronts involving Anderson Seed Inc., a defunct company that was headquartered in Mentor, Minn.

The Anderson Seed insolvency caused court challenges that undermined the ability of South Dakota elevators to continue to use credit-sale contracts. The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission has issued rules that allow the contracts to go forward as before.

Here are other pending legal matters involving the case:

• The North Dakota Public Service Commission is still not able to discuss the status of efforts to go after about $1.5 million in value from sunflower seed inventories acquired by Legumex Walker when it bought Anderson Seed assets in early 2012.

The state hired Grand Forks lawyer Jon Jensen as a special assistant attorney general to pursue the matter on behalf of the PSC. There have been reports that the agency was close to some kind of settlement. But on Nov. 7, Gov. Jack Dalrymple appointed Jensen to the Northeast Central Judicial District Court bench, serving Grand Forks and Nelson counties.

Mike Gust, the Fargo attorney for Kevin Kessel of Belfield, N.D., one of the creditors in the Anderson Seed case, says it’s unclear whether the appointment makes things worse. He says Sue Richter, grain licensing director for the PSC, had told him she was hopeful that the settlement would be completed before Jensen takes the judgeship on Dec. 9. Gust says any settlement would require a motion to the court that would allow farmers and other creditors 21 days to object to the settlement.

“I think (the judgeship) is going to make the PSC really push for a settlement,” Gust says, predicting that the settlement proposal will be a fraction of what it should be.

• The South Dakota Attorney General’s office reportedly had notified farmer-creditors that the agency was looking into the Anderson Seed issue for potential action, but the agency is saying little about it. Charles D. McGuinan, chief deputy attorney general, visited with Agweek in late October, but a month later was not able to supply details.

• A lawsuit by Midwest Cooperatives of Pierre, S.D., an affiliate of CHS Inc., for $1.4 million was set for a November trial date in Crookston, Minn. The trial has been delayed until April 2014. Attorney Jon Brakke of Fargo asked the court to delay the trial, accusing Anderson Seed of destroying documents. Brakke is optimistic he’ll acquire more documents at the end of November and says depositions might be taken in January.

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