Monday, February 2, 2009

Judge Rules in Favor of Plaintiffs Ted Keller and Leo Straley

The following article was published in the Foster County Independent on February 2, 2008. Since their newspaper is not online, I've copied it here for the convenience of Internet readers.

Judge Rule Favors Plaintiff--Court Case sought Copies of Letters in Support of Dairy by Leasa A. Lura for the Foster County Independent

In a hearing of Ted Keller and Leo Straley vs. Foster County Commission, Judge Greenwood ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, but the damages they were seeking will not be paid.

During the hearing on Wednesday, January 28, attorney for the commission, Scott Porsberg attended the hearing by phone.

The hearing was for a summary judgment filed by Keller and Straley with a motion for summary judgment also filed by the commission.

Keller began by telling Judge Greenwood that he sent two letters to the county commission on June 9, 2008, requesting copies of the 346 letters that commissioner Jim Carr received from supporters of the Van Bedaf dairy.

After receiving no response, Keller said he sent another request on August 19, 2008, accompanied by an$86 certified check for the copies.

Keller stated that he still hasn't received copies of the letters and quoted the attorney general as saying that every person has the right to access records of government entities.

Porsberg said that he didn't receive copies of the letters because the request wasn't sent to the acting attorney.

He also said that Ellen Sherman sent a request to him for copies of the letters and received those copies.

Porsberg said he assumed that Sherman was acting as an agent for Keller and Straley and assumed that they would receive the letters from Sherman. Keller and Straley both testified that they had not received the letters from Sherman.

After a review of the case and the testimonies, Judge Greenwood said that Porsberg had no reason to believe that Sherman was acting as an agent of Keller and Straley.

Judge Greenwood ultimately denied the commission's motion for summary judgment and granted Keller and Straley's motion for summary judgment.

He said that the commission must provide copies of the letters to Keller and Straley in a reasonable amount of time.

Keller and Straley were also seeking at least $1,000 in damages, but Judge Greenwood denied that request, except for the filing fees to the county amounting to $80.

Judge Greenwood also said that he believes that the violation was not intentional.


  1. Hi: Could you please make a list of the letters and print them someplace so all can see. Thanks

  2. When Commissioner Carr and Foster County were forced to provide copies of the "346 letters in support of a dairy" to Keller and Straley, it turned out that there were actually only two letters. One letter was from Tom Erdmann. The other letter was one which had been photocopied over and over again with signatures from county residents, out-of-county residents, some under-age residents, and several signed by the same person again and again. Several of the photocopied letters had a short personal note added. Sad to say, Commissioner Carr had given the public a completely different impression of the letters when he used them to overide the Planning and Zoning Committee's recommendation that the Van Bedaf dairy should not be able to locate so close to Carrington.

    From what I understand, some people who signed the photocopied letter do not wish to have their names published online, so I'm not going to print their names here. However, if you wish to see the signed letters, there are copies at the Foster County Courthouse. I think, after being sued to release them to the public, they will provide access to them without any problem.

    There are also many well-written letters from Carrington citizens and business owners who recommended that the dairy not be allowed to locate so close to Carrington and our water aquifer. They had definite cause to be concerned about the location, since the lagoon system was patterned after the Thief River Falls dairy which the Minnesota State Health Department closed down due to its unhealthy effects on their community.