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Discovery can begin in suit against Pioneer

Circuit Judge Edward McFerrin told the plaintiffs and defendants in the suit against Pioneer Electric Cooperative last Friday that discovery can begin in the case.

According to the plaintiffs’ attorney, Doyle Fuller, the hearing was held to argue several motions.

&uot;As I recall the judge said he was going to dismiss the individual claims for damages,&uot; he said. &uot;The judge said he didn’t believe the individual members had a basis for damages. He did say that he was not going to dismiss the other aspects of the suit.&uot;

Fuller said the biggest event of the hearing was that McFerrin lifted the stay on discovery.

&uot;He told the parties that we were to go ahead and begin with discovery,&uot; he said. &uot;We have requests for production out there and we should be getting the documents within the next few weeks.

Once we get them, we will set depositions for Malloy Chandler, the trustees and others.&uot;

Another issue before the court was the motion on whether the board is actually legal since no election has been called in recent history.

&uot;One of the issues still pending is the status of the trustees on whether they have been elected or not,&uot; Fuller said.

&uot;We are going to have to wait and see on that.&uot;

Fuller said of the hearing, from what he understood, the case will go forward.

&uot;He has not entered a formal order, but he made it pretty clear,&uot; Fuller said. &uot;He asked each side to submit proposed orders.

As to which one he’ll sign, we don’t know.

We should hear something formally in the next few days.&uot;

Phil Butler who represents Pioneer in the suit said it is still too early to comment on what McFerrin will do.

&uot;We did have a hearing before Judge McFerrin Friday and he shared with the parties his present leanings but instructed both sides to submit proposed orders early this week,&uot; he said. &uot;We are in the process of complying with his instructions. Until the judge settles upon the final language of his order, I do not feel that it is appropriate to address this matter.&uot;

Either way, discovery in the case will begin, and that pleases Margaret Pierce, the president of Rural Electric Members Action Committee (REMAC).

&uot;I am pleased to announce that the lawsuit brought on behalf of members of Pioneer Electric Cooperative, Inc. against the Cooperative and others in the Butler County Circuit Court will be allowed to go forward,&uot; she said in a release to her membership.

&uot;Yesterday (Friday, July 30), the Court ruled to allow the case to proceed and permitted discovery to begin.&uot;

Since it is unethical for a sitting judge to comment on a pending case, no details were obtained from McFerrin’s office.

Pierce said she did expect more movement this week.

&uot;We expect to have further information within a short while and will provide this to our members as soon as possible,&uot; she said.

&uot;Needless to say, we are overjoyed to have passed this test in the Court and we are confident that we will prevail in this extremely involved and complex lawsuit.&uot;

Another motion before McFerrin is a request to stay the annual meeting of the board of trustees later this month.

The annual membership meeting of the co-op will be held in Selma on at 8 a.m. on Saturday, August 21.

The meeting will take place at the Pickard Auditorium located at 400 Washington Street next to the Selma City School of Discovery Genesis Center.

Also, REMAC’ s next quarterly membership meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, August 14, 2004, at the Ritz Theatre in Greenville.

The supporting group for Pioneer, the Friends of Pioneer, has not announced any type of membership meeting to date.

For more information on REMAC, call Pierce at 382-5754 or visit www.myremac.com.

For more information on Friends of Pioneer, call Lamar Giddens at 382-3039.

For more information on Pioneer Electric, visit www.pioneerelectric.com.