State seeks legal fees of nearly $11K

Local News

The owner of an event center in Winnebago owes the state nearly $11,000 for disobeying a pandemic order.

In papers filed Aug. 25 in Faribault County District Court, the Attorney General’s Office says the legal fees to prosecute its civil suit against Garth Carlson totaled $10,890.

“The defendant openly and brazenly threatened to violate an emergency executive order designed to stem the spread of a deadly virus,” says the Attorney General’s Office.

A motion hearing seeking the legal costs is scheduled Sept. 22 before Judge Troy Timmerman.

Carlson’s bill actually could have been much more than it is, according to supporting documents.

A survey of private practicing consumer attorneys conducted in 2017-18, says the state, shows their requested legal rate of $133 per hour is a fraction of the median rate of $350.

Also not included were charges for management-level attorneys, other assistant Attorneys General, investigators and a law clerk.

State prosecutors filed a lawsuit to block the Carlson Event Center from hosting a New Year’s Eve party in 2020. At the time, Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order did not allow most gatherings because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“When the state sued to intervene, the defendant engaged in costly, dilatory litigation that served no purpose but to inflate costs,” court papers say.

Carlson is also being sued by a Mankato law firm that alleges he owes $4,876 plus an $80 filing fee.

A conciliation hearing, also to be heard by Timmerman, will be held today via Zoom.

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