Judge dismisses Eagle Nation Cycles' lawsuit against Neenah

File photo (WLUK/Scott Hurley)

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by Eagle Nation Cycles against the City of Neenah & Winnebago County.

The store, Steven Erato, Wendy Williamson, Lottie Tucker and Michael Funk sued the city and county, seeking $50 million, alleging their civil rights were violated during a 2012 police raid.

According to the five-page decision, filed Thursday, the plaintiffs' attorneys failed to respond to motions or complete discovery.

"In this case, dismissal is warranted not least because the undisputed failures to communicate appear to have been an almost reckless affront to normal procedures and good faith," wrote Judge William Griesbach. "A party cannot simply lodge allegations of this nature against city officers and employees and then deny them the opportunity to timely discover the evidence on which they are based so they can obtain a prompt disposition of them in court."

Other defendants in the case were Police Chief Kevin Wilkinson and Capt. Tom Long. Winnebago County Judge Scott Woldt was previously dismissed from the case.

Griesbach ordered Eagle Nation's attorney, Cole White, to pay $1,500 in attorneys' fees and costs. The suit was dismissed "with prejudice," which means it cannot be refiled.

Neenah City Attorney Jim Godleski issued a statement on the decision: "The failure of the plaintiffs to participate in discovery may have been an indication of the weakness of their claim. The permanent dismissal vindicates our position that the City and members of the NPD did not violate the plaintiffs' rights."

Chief Wilkinson added: "Anyone can accuse of anyone of anything; it is quite another matter to provide proof for sensational claims. This dismissal is a commentary about credibility."

White issued this statement to Fox 11: "We are deeply disappointed in the decision. The defendants, in typical fashion, used deceptive tactics to create a basis for the dismissal and the court rewarded them for it. We have every intention of appealing this decision and will continue to fight to hold them accountable not only for the violation of the plaintiffs' rights in this case, but for the calculated assassination of Michael Funk, by the defendants."

Funk was killed last year by police during a standoff at the store regarding the ownership of a motorcycle. Neenah police said Funk had a weapon and didn't comply with officer's commands to put it down.The Wisconsin Department of Justice is investigating that incident. It has not said when its review will be completed.

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