Beef plant, contractor dispute heading to court

Farm Forum

A dispute between Northern Beef Packers and a Huron excavator about the amount charged or owed for work done at the plant remains unresolved.

Attorneys for both sides indicated during a brief meeting on April 18 that the matter will have to be resolved at trial.

At the center of the dispute is how much money, if any, the beef plant still owes Scott Olson Digging of Huron for dirtwork done at Northern Beef Packers during the early phases of construction.

After Scott Olson Digging of Huron filed a $2.1 million mechanic’s lien for the dirtwork, the beef plant filed a lawsuit against Scott Olson Digging. The lawsuit claims that the beef plant was overcharged for work.

A four-day court trial – in which a verdict is issued by a judge, not a jury – is scheduled to begin in late July. But an attorney for Scott Olson Digging said during the meeting that the business wants a jury trial which could take two weeks.

While there are some civil lawsuit matters that can be decided by only a judge, Judge Scott Myren said the lawsuit appears to contain legal matters that a jury is allowed to decide.

For the time being, at least, the trial has not been taken off the court schedule.

The Scott Olson Digging lien is the only mechanic’s lien remaining against the beef plant, which previously paid off numerous other liens that had been filed by businesses claiming they had not been paid for materials or services.

No new mechanic’s liens have been filed against the plant since July, according to records at the Brown County Register of Deed’s office.

Northern Beef Packers is also not delinquent on its property taxes, said Sheila Enderson, county treasurer.

The beef processing plant, just southwest of Aberdeen, has about 420 employees and is processing an undisclosed number of cattle each week. When the plant is at full capacity, plans call for it to employ about 600 workers and process 1,500 head of cattle five days a week.