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Mo. convention revises, attempts to revive Windermere lawsuit

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by gb93433, May 13, 2009.

  1. gb93433

    gb93433 Active Member
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    Jun 26, 2003
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    By Vicki Brown Wednesday, May 13, 2009

    CAMDENTON, Mo. (ABP) -- The Missouri Baptist Convention will try once again to reclaim the land owned by Windermere Baptist Conference Center -- as well as property the agency once owned -- by amending and re-filing a lawsuit that was recently dismissed.

    The move comes against another recently failed lawsuit in which the convention attempted to regain control of Windermere's trustee board.

    On May 6, MBC attorneys filed a request to submit an amended version of a suit the convention originally filed against the center in Camden County, Mo., Circuit Court in 2006. Judge Kenneth Hayden dismissed that case on April 9.

    Under the state’s court rules, the convention had two options -- to appeal Hayden's decision to a higher panel or to ask the lower court for permission to file an amended petition.

    The amended petition in Camden County seeks return of 1,300 acres, which includes 943 acres Windermere transferred to National City Bank of Cincinnati in late 2005 as part of a debt-restructuring plan. The bank sold the property to Windermere Development Co. Inc., owned by William Jester of Springfield, Mo.

    It also requests damages from former MBC executive director Jim Hill for breach of fiduciary duty. The convention claims Hill facilitated transfer of the Windermere property from the convention to the Windermere corporation in 2001 when the conference center incorporated itself separately from the convention after the convention approved the action. In the past, the center was governed by an MBC committee.

    Windermere trustees later changed their corporate charter to appoint their own successors rather than allowing the convention to appoint them.

    The revised case also requests a jury trial.

    When he dismissed the Camden County action in April, Hayden ruled that the issues included in that case mirror legal action the MBC took in Cole County against Windermere, the Missouri Baptist Foundation, Missouri Baptist University, Word & Way and The Baptist Home in 2002. The convention filed suit against the five agenices in an effort to rescind changes in each entity’s articles of incorporation to allow each to elect its own trustees.

    All of the agencies withdrew themselves from convention control after conservatives won a lengthy battle with moderates over MBC leadership. Word & Way, Missouri Baptists' historic newspaper, is affiliated with Associated Baptist Press in the New Voice Media partnership.

    In the larger case, Cole County Circuit Court Judge Richard Callahan ruled March 4, 2008, that Windermere acted legally when it changed its articles of incorporation. A three-judge appellate panel upheld Callahan’s ruling Feb. 3.

    The Missouri Supreme Court decided May 5 not to consider the case, allowing Callahan's original ruling to stand.
    Hearings for the other four institutions were put on hold pending the outcome of the appeal in the Cole County case against Windermere.

    The revised petition lists the MBC Executive Board as the plaintiff in the case. Defendants include Jester and six of his companies -- Windermere Development Co., Jester Capital Management, the Estates at Windermere, the Lodges at Windermere, the Villas at Windermere and Resource Development Inc. Resource Development employee Jerald Hill is also named.

    Jim Hill and his firm, RDI, and the conference center are listed as well.

    Several financial institutions involved in Windermere’s restructuring plan are also listed. They are: California Plan of Church Finance Inc., Reliance Trust Co., First Centennial Bank, National City Bank of the Midwest, Consolidated Mortgage Inc. and First American Title Missouri Agency Inc.

    A hearing in the case is scheduled for June 9 in Camden County.