Legal maneuvering continues in the suit filed by the Calista Regional Native Corporation against its former board chairman, Col. Wayne Don. Both sides have now agreed to go into mediation, scheduled for Friday, January 18 before former State Supreme Court Chief Justice Dana Fabe. Don’s attorney, Sam Fortier, says that he has little hope that both sides will come to an agreement.
The mediation was requested by Calista after Don’s team questioned three board members under oath, all of whom voted to remove Don from the board. Calista went to court to force Don’s departure when he refused to step down from its board. That lawsuit remains undecided, but the legal wheels are turning.
Both sides met with Superior Court Judge Andrew Guidi earlier this month to schedule the trial. Don’s attorney successfully argued that the trial should be conducted in two parts. The first would look at whether Don should be removed from Calista’s board of directors for not doing what the suit calls his “fiduciary duty.” That refers to his efforts to hold a special meeting looking at President and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Guy’s handling of complaints about alleged sexual harassment and corruption on the part of George Owletuck, a former Calista executive and friend of the CEO. That portion of the suit is now scheduled to be decided by Judge Guidi in a non-jury trial set for June, just before Calista’s annual meeting in July, when Don’s term on the board is up.
If Calista succeeds in getting a ruling removing Don from the board, the corporation’s bylaws say that the replacement must be appointed through a shareholder vote. Since Don’s term ends in July, it is unlikely that there would be a special election, no matter what the outcome of the hearing is. The second part of the legal battle concerns the costs of the Calista suit; it is scheduled to go before a full jury in November.
Don’s attorneys have asked the judge to decide part of the case without a trial, and Calista has responded that it needs more facts to make its case. Specifically, it wanted to depose Don and his attorney, along with Calista’s own counsel, James Linxwiler, and also find an expert to testify about “fiduciary duty.” Calista had delayed questioning these people under oath until after the proposed mediation. But after meeting with Judge Guidi, Calista’s lawyers went ahead with scheduling the depositions.