Oklahoma Youth Expo lawsuit dismissed — for now

by Andrew Knittle Published: July 8, 2013
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A lawsuit seeking to recover more than $2 million in state money provided to a privately run youth livestock show was dismissed after attorneys involved in the case failed to show up at a scheduling conference with the presiding judge last week.

Filed by Rep. Mike Reynolds, the lawsuit was set in motion after Reynolds tried unsuccessfully to get the money back through a formal demand letter, which was ignored, court records show.

The suit, filed in January, names a handful of elected officials, the state Agriculture Department and the Oklahoma Youth Expo — the private charity that runs the youth livestock show — as defendants.

Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, said the dismissal of his case will likely be a short-term obstacle in his fight to get the money “back to the state.”

“This looks like, basically, a paperwork snafu,” he said. “It looks a clerk in the judge's office didn't send out the notifications to the lawyers who were supposed to be there.”

According to an order of dismissal signed by District Judge Bryan Dixon, the case was dismissed because no attorneys showed up for a scheduling conference held Friday morning.

More than one of the attorneys involved, however, claim they never knew the meeting had been scheduled by the judge's office.

One of the lawyers, who didn't want his named used, said he wasn't even aware the case had been dismissed when he was contacted by phone Monday afternoon.

Kirby Smith, a spokeswoman for the state Agriculture Department, said she couldn't comment on the case because lawyers for the state agency had yet to receive a copy of the judge's order of dismissal.

One of the expo's attorneys, Jeff Todd, said his office also was in the dark about the scheduling conference held on Friday.

“It appears that in June, the court set a scheduling conference for July 5,” Todd wrote in an email.

“However, we have no record of receiving the notice of the scheduling conference and assume none of the other lawyers in the case did either, since apparently nobody showed up.”

The case, which had two motions for summary judgment pending at the time it was dismissed, can be refiled by Reynolds, court records show.

Attempts to reach Dixon for comment on this story were not successful.

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by Andrew Knittle
Investigative Reporter
Andrew Knittle has covered state water issues, tribal concerns and major criminal proceedings during his career as an Oklahoma journalist. He has won reporting awards from the state's Associated Press bureau and prides himself on finding a real...
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