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Friday, October 8, 2010

Veblen West Auction May Still Happen Today

I reported yesterday that the bankruptcy liquidation of the Veblen West factory dairy scheduled for today may have been placed on hold by dairy exploiter Rick Millner's latest financial shell game. But new court documents show that today's hearing on the Trustee's motion for liquidation is still on, and the Trustee is arguing for the sale to go forward this afternoon.

I'm poring through a new stack of court documents right now trying to make sense of the situation. Apparently the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of South Dakota got legally spammed yesterday, with a whole batch of nearly identical objections to the auction flooding in. Unfortunately for the objecting parties, they didn't pay attention to the clock. The court's deadline for objections was Thursday noon; all but one of the copycat objections were filed at 2:12 p.m. or later. Trustee Forrest C. Allred thus moves those objections be ruled untimely and thrown out.

Allred also documents shenanigans by the Veblen West equity owners, including Rick Millner, to sabotage the Veblen West auction. Evidently their objection to the sale revolves around the absence of an option for the buyer on silage. Allred says there is an option... or would be if Rick Millner would quit playing games and check his e-mail. The trustee has made concessions to the silage group (Rick Millner and fellow Veblen West owners) and negotiated a silage option, but Millner has persisted in raising the price: he agreed to $35.00 per ton of silage, then hiked his asking price to $45.00, then $49.93. Each time, Allred caved on the price and sent option documents for Millner to sign. Each time, Millner failed to reply. Millner tries to blame his lack of response on not receiving the e-mail attachment on September 13... but he admitted to the trustee yesterday that when he checked his inbox, he found the attachment there after all. Yeah. Right.

Trustee Allred comes to the following conclusion:

The silage group – which is substantially the same as the “Certain Equity Owners” described above, is deliberately refusing to comply with the negotiated option in order to chill bidding, and to delay and block the proposed said. This is particularly inappropriate in light of the fact that one of the Certain Equity Owners’ objections to the sale is that the bidding procedure proposed in the motion will chill bidding [Forrest C. Allred, Trustee, In Re: Veblen West Dairy LLP, Case 10-10071, Document 440, United States Bankruptcy Court, District of South Dakota, 2010.10.07].

The latest tactics from the Veblen West owners smell of obfuscation and obstruction par excellence. Trustee Allred can see through it; let's hope the court does as well.
Bonus Objection: The untimely objections all include this amusing "come-to-enviro-Jesus" paragraph:

10. The Trustee's Motion to Sell the assets is also inappropriate in that the sale proposes to sell the assets subject to environmental contingencies. This problem should be rememdied prior to the sale in order to maximize the value of the assets.

I want ever so much to look those folks in the eye and say, "No s#!t!"... since really, that's what they're wishing here. Now the creditors realize that Millner's own environmental abuses have wrecked the dairy's sale value and that he ought to be held accountable and forced by DENR to clean up his manure violations.

Update 15:02 CDT: No sale today! An observer in the field reports the silage objection won the day. The trustee will take another swing at Millner's legal armor soon.

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