Organizers of the city of St. George effort seemingly missed a 15-day deadline to file an answer in 19th Judicial District Court to the lawsuit challenging their proposed incorporation, prompting the attorney suing them on behalf of Mayor Sharon Weston Broome and three others to ask the court to find them in default.
Attorney Mary Olive Pierson filed a motion for preliminary default earlier today against the St. George organizers, whom she sued Nov. 4 on behalf of Broome, M.E. Cormier and Lewis Unglesby. She filed an amended version of the suit Nov. 8 to include a fourth plaintiff—Metro Council member Lamont Cole.
Court records show St George organizers and defendants Chris Rials and Norman Browning were served with the amended petition Nov. 12. Under state law, they had 15 days after the date of service—or Nov. 27—to respond. No response was filed by that deadline, according to court records.
Late this afternoon, however, St. George attorney Sheri Morris filed several documents related to the lawsuit. Those documents were not immediately available on the clerk of court’s website. (The story will be updated should they become public later this afternoon.)
Neither Morris nor St George spokesman Drew Murrel returned calls today seeking comment.
Today’s motion by Pierson essentially would have put St. George organizers on notice that they have three days to answer the original petition. If that doesn’t happen, Pierson says it’s likely she will ask the court for a hearing, at which she could seek a judgment preventing the incorporation from being certified.
Though unlikely to be successful, Pierson acknowledges, she says it’s puzzling that St. George organizers have seemingly failed to respond to the lawsuit.
“They want to run a town and they can’t answer a lawsuit in 15 days?” she says.
St. George supporters have been raising money through an online grassroots effort to mount what will likely be a costly legal defense. Almost daily, they auction off handmade items through the unofficial St. George community Facebook page.
It is unclear how much they have raised and whether financial concerns are a factor in their ability to file a timely response to the suit.