The city of Brainerd has answered a lawsuit by The Brainerd Daily Dispatch, denying every allegation that the city violated the Minnesota Open Meeting law in closing a meeting to discuss possible litigation.
On Aug. 12 The Dispatch served a lawsuit on five Brainerd City Council members and the city of Brainerd, alleging the city council wrongly met in a closed session on July 25 to discuss Brainerd Area Coalition for Peace's exclusion by Brainerd Community Action from the city's Fourth of July parade. BACP has filed no lawsuit.
Council members Jim Dehen, Anne Nelson Fisher, Mary Koep, Lucy Nesheim and Gary Scheeler, as well as the city of Brainerd, are defendants. Absent from the July 25 meeting were council members Bob Olson, Kelly Bevans and Mayor James Wallin.
In its answer, presented to the city council Tuesday from George Hoff, the attorney representing the city in the lawsuit, the city states that the council closed its meeting upon the advice of an attorney that the meeting was proper, necessary and lawful, and thus there can be no intentional violation of the Open Meeting Law.
In its answer to The Dispatch's complaint, the city states that the meeting was properly closed under the terms of the Prior Lake American vs. Mader case Minnesota Supreme Court case.
The Dispatch is requesting a judgment declaring the defendants intentionally violated the open meeting law when they met in closed session July 25; prohibiting the defendants from closing future city council meetings in reliance on the attorney-client privilege exception when discussing threatened, possible or prospective litigation; and awarding to The Dispatch its costs in the lawsuit.
The city's answer to the complaint states that The Dispatch fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and that the city of Brainerd is not a proper party to a claim brought under Minnesota's Open Meeting Law.
The city is requesting judgment of the court to dismiss The Dispatch's pretended cause of action the awarding to The Dispatch its costs and disbursements.
Nothing has been set in Crow Wing County District Court regarding the lawsuit. Hoff and the attorney representing The Dispatch, Mark Anfinson, were the attorneys who argued the Prior Lake American vs. Mader case.
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