Friday, October 26, 2012

McKinstry trial still set for October 2013

Jury expected to hear arguments for 25 days


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

Anyone who wants to attend the jury trial between the McKinstry Essention and the Blaine County School District has about a year to plan for the event. And anyone who wants to hear the whole thing should mark off about 25 days on their calendar because that’s how long the trial is expected to last.

Following a telephonic conference Monday, Blaine County 5th District Judge Robert J. Elgee retained an Oct. 15, 2013, date for the trial to begin. At the request of McKinstry, the trial date was set in September. However, a motion filed by School District attorneys asked the judge to schedule the trial sooner, possibly as early as April.

According to court records, attorneys for the parties are now in the process of discovery, through which litigants obtain information from each other, and in scheduling and conducting depositions, which allow attorneys to interview people likely to be called as witnesses at trial.

At stake between the parties is about $26 million. McKinstry is claiming that the district still owes the company about $7 million for energy conservation work and other improvements at district schools and facilities, while the district claims that it only authorized work worth about $18.6 million and alleges damages of at least that amount.

Work was started in 2010 following voter approval in 2009 of a 10-year $59.8 million plant facilities levy to fund the bulk of the work. Most of the work was completed by the start of the 2011-12 school year. McKinstry filed its lawsuit last May.

A notice of hearing for the trial states that it will begin Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013, and will be held on Tuesdays through Fridays of the following weeks with the exception of Oct. 18. Elgee typically does not hold trials on Mondays so that he can attend to other court business.

A pretrial conference is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 16.


Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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