After two years of litigation, more than half a dozen depositions, and a ten-day trial, current members of the Jordan Area Community Council board of directors were awarded $40,887.37 to be paid by former members of the JACC board who sued them. Most of the money (about $25,000) awarded was for taxable costs and disbursements, which, according to David Schooler, the attorney for the defense, is fairly standard. In this case, Hennepin County District Judge Charles Porter found the plaintiffs to have acted in bad faith, and awarded additional attorney fees.
Jerry Moore (who also recently sued John Hoff (aka Johnny Northside), along with “old JACC majority” members Benjamin Meyers, Dokor Devongsa, Ethylon “EB” Brown, William Brown, Robert Scott, Shannot Hartfiel, Robert Wilson, Steve Jackson, DeEtte Davis, Tamara Hardy, Lafeyette Butler, Jernell McLane, Frank Essien and Kenya Weathers sued the Jordan Community Council and the Minneapolis Neighborhood Revitalization Project along with “new majority” members John Hubbard, Robert Hudson, Ann McCandless, Stacy Sorenson (from NRP), and Michael (Kip) Browne.
The split between the two boards occurred in January 2009, when new leadership was elected in the neighborhood organization after some members of the community charged that funds were being mishandled. Soon after the change in leadership, JACC’s Executive Director Jerry Moore was fired.
The “old majority” didn’t take losing power at JACC lying down. They claimed that they were the true JACC board and that the elections were bogus. Around that time, equipment from the JACC office went missing, and, at a January 17 press conference, Ben Myers, former chair of the board before the change in leadership, admitted that he knew where the missing items were, but would not say where they were.
There have been a number of lawsuits involving similar casts of characters, with Jill Clark acting as plaintiffs’ attorney in the cases. (Clark was also the attorney in Jerry Moore’s lawsuit against John Hoff.)
In July of 2009, for instance, Judge Porter dismissed a defamation suit by Ben Myers against Dennis Wagner (a former JACC board member), JACC board member Ann McCandless and JACC community member Megan Goodmundson. In that case, Porter also ruled in favor of the defendants and awarded them $2334.50 in attorney fees and costs.
All of the lawsuits by the “old majority” against the current JACC and individuals involved with it have resulted in rulings in favor of the defendents. “Despite repeated lawsuits by the same people, JACC has only grown stronger,” reads JACC’s most recent newsletter. “Each attempt has been unsuccessful.”
Michael (Kip) Browne, who was elected chair of the JACC board in January of 2009, said that while the news of the most recent judgment was well received by JACC members, “In a certain way, it was overshadowed by the volunteer turnout we had at the JACC Clean Sweep this past weekend. There is little doubt that JACC is as strong as ever!”
Jill Clark, the plaintiffs’ attorney, said she plans to draft an order for an amended judgment. “It’s technical stuff,” she said, involving the precise language of the judgment. She plans on appealing the judgment.