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Class-action status given MCP lawsuit

Associated Press

MARSHALL, Minn. -- Class-action status was granted Wednesday in a lawsuit filed against Minnesota Corn Processors, opening the door to roughly 5,000 former shareholders joining the case.

Brown County District Judge John Rodenberg granted the class-action status in the lawsuit filed last year by five former shareholders. It accuses nine former MCP officials of failing to be fiscally responsible before and during the public shareholders discussions on MCP's sale to Archer Daniels Midland in 2002.

"Class action is the superior method of adjudicating this matter," Rodenberg said. "It will permit the resolution of as many claims as possible."

Only those who were shareholders before September 2002 are eligible to be included in the lawsuit under Rodenberg's order filed Wednesday in Lyon County District Court.

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Former MCP chief executive officer L. Daniel Thompson and former board chairman Jerry Jacoby are among the defendants named in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims that the former MCP officials misled shareholders for their own benefit and their actions drove the price of MCP stock down. Their actions resulted in shareholders' losing money and misrepresented the sale to ADM, the lawsuit alleges.

If proven, Rodenberg said, the plaintiffs actions affected all shareholders and lowered the price per share. A class action lawsuit will cause the least amount of burden to the judicial system and the least amount to the defendants and the plaintiffs, the judge said.

The lawyers for the plaintiffs have 14 days to submit to the court a proposed notice to inform Class A shareholders of the lawsuit. A notice must be published in four legal newspapers in Minnesota, including Lyon County, and in a legal newspaper in Columbus, Neb. -- the site of a former MCP ethanol plant.

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