Oct. 8—WINNEBAGO — A Winnebago events center must pay the Minnesota Attorney General's Office nearly $11,000.
The Minnesota Attorney General's sued the Carlson Event Center for planning a New Year's Eve event in 2020 while an executive order prohibited most gatherings because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Faribault County Judge Troy Timmerman issued a restraining order and the event never happened.
In August Timmerman agreed the company that owns the event center, owned by Garth Carlson, should have to reimburse the state for its litigation costs.
The Attorney General's Office subsequently submitted a bill of nearly $10,900. Timmerman issued an order this week requiring the events center company pay that amount.
The ordered amount reflects hours Assistant Attorney General Noah Lewellen said he worked on the case, billed at a rate of $133 per hour. The Attorney General's Office opted not to bill for the time of other staff who assisted.
Carlson initially claimed the New Year's Eve event was a religious event exempt from the COVID-19 order. He later filed counterclaims with allegations including defamation. He had not appeared for the last several hearings in the case.
The Attorney General's Office's request for compensation argued:
"(Carlson) openly and brazenly threatened to violate emergency executive orders designed to stem the spread of a deadly virus. When the state sued to intervene, defendant engaged in costly, dilatory litigation that served no purpose but to inflate costs. Defendant subsequently declined to participate in the litigation, forcing the matter to be further drawn out."