MBC files summary judgment motion against Windermere - Word&Way

MBC files summary judgment motion against Windermere

By Vicki Brown

Word&Way Correspondent

JEFFERSON CITY — Attorneys for the Missouri Baptist Conven­tion have filed a motion for summary judgment against Winder­mere Baptist Conference Center.

The motion, filed on Oct. 11 in Cole County Circuit Court, asks Judge Richard Callahan to rule on three counts included in the convention’s fifth amended petition against five formerly affiliated institutions.

The MBC filed legal action against Windermere, the Mis­souri Baptist Foundation, Word&­Way, the Baptist Home and Missouri Baptist University in August 2002 to force the five to repeal new charters that allow each entity to elect its own trustees.

A motion for summary judgment is a request to a judge to decide a case or portions of a case on evidence that the issue can be settled on the basis of existing law without a trial.

MBC lead attorney Michael Whitehead noted that the convention’s latest filing could be categorized as a cross motion to a Windermere motion filed earlier this year.

“Windermere has filed a motion for summary judgment, alleging that key facts are not in dispute, and that based on these facts, the court should enter summary judgment in their favor, without a trial,” White­head said by e-mail on Oct. 15.

“MBC has filed, in effect, a cross motion for summary judgment. It says that the key facts in our [Fifth Amended] Peti­tion are not in dispute, and justify a summary judgment in our favor.

“We believe these key facts justify a finding by the court that a contract existed which was breached by Windermere,” Whitehead added. “We ask the judge to make this legal ruling without submitting it to a jury.”

In its motion, the convention asks the judge to declare that the MBC has the right to approve amendments to Win­der­mere’s charter and to elect its trustees. The motion also asks the judge to force the conference center to cancel its current charter, which the convention did not approve, and to operate under its 2000 charter.

If the judge determines the convention does not have the right to control Windermere, the MBC’s motion asks for the return of property that the convention turned over to the conference center when Winder­mere became a separate agency in 2000. Prior to that time, Windermere was governed by a convention committee.

The motion also asks that Windermere be stopped from further construction projects and from encumbering its assets without court approval. It requests the conference center return $141,937, representing Cooperative Program funds given since the new charter was put in place.

In the event the judge rules against the motion, the convention asks him for a partial ruling to declare the MBC a member of Windermere’s corporation, which would give the convention the right to approve charter amendments.

Although he has heard arguments on the issue, Judge Callahan has not yet ruled on whether the MBC is a member of the five entity corporations.