Co-op ordered to pay lawyer fees over board suit

Posted: Monday, September 16, 2002

PALMER (AP) -- Matanuska Electric Association has been ordered to pay $100,000 in attorney fees for a case in which the co-op board refused to seat the winning candidate on the board after an election.

Superior Court Judge Beverly Cutler issued the order last week. The order came after a lawsuit in which Michael Janecek, who won a seat on the seven-member board in April 2001, was denied the seat after board members said he violated campaign disclosure laws.

Cutler ruled early this year that the board erred in that decision and ordered Janecek be seated.

In deciding to award the lawyer fees to attorney Scott Waterman, Cutler rejected MEA's claim that the utility acted as public interest litigant in the case and shouldn't have to pay. She noted the utility failed to meet any of the requirements to be considered a public interest litigant.

''MEA neither brought suit to effectuate strong public policies nor constitutes a private individual bringing an action because no one else had sufficient economic incentive to do so,'' she wrote.

MEA spokesman Mike Pauley said Friday that utility officials had not yet decided whether to appeal.

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