Foxconn trial

Racine County Circuit Court Judge Michael Piontek speaks to attorneys for the Village of Mount Pleasant and the Jensen family, who appeared in court via conference call on Wednesday. The village is attempting to purchase the Jensen's property in the Foxconn Technology Group development area and the Jensens are challenging that in court. 

RACINE — A trial date has been set for July 10-11 in a dispute over land acquisition in the Foxconn development area.

The Jensen family is challenging the Village of Mount Pleasant in court regarding the village forcing them to sell their land for the project.

At a status conference on Wednesday, Racine County Circuit Court Judge Michael Piontek brought both parties, who appeared via conference call, to an agreement on the trial date as negotiations have not come to a conclusion.

“This case has been going on for some time, and it doesn’t seem like we’re making much headway,” Piontek said. “I think the parties are entitled to have it resolved.”

Cathy Jensen said she and her husband Rodney have lived in their home, on the Southeast Frontage Road near Durand Avenue, for 25 years and don’t want to move.

“We raised our kids here, this is my grandkids’ safe place,” Jensen said. “Our house just isn’t for sale.”

The Jensen family was given an offer from Mount Pleasant to sell their home, but they rejected it, and negotiations have stalled.

Lining up witnesses

Erik Olsen, attorney for the Jensens, filed a motion to prohibit experts who did not provide a written report. But Piontek gave both sides extended time to file the necessary paperwork to be included in the trial.

“I don’t like to exclude witnesses from either side who are experts,” Piontek said. That invites appeals “and litigation goes on forever,” he said.

“Let’s get our witnesses lined up.”

Also present at the Wednesday status conference were attorneys for JP Morgan Chase Bank and American Technologies Inc., two of five entities that are listed as creditors in the case.

It is possible that after the trial is over, the creditors will take part of the money that is awarded to the Jensens if they are forced to move.

Ian Thompson, attorney for Chase, told Piontek his client is not interested in participating in the case but wants to know the results.

“Because of our interest as a lien holder, we’re not interested in the trial itself; we’re only interested in the outcome of the trial,” Thompson said.

Thomas Santarelli, attorney for American Technologies, also said his clients are only interested in the outcome of the trial.

Piontek said after a decision has been made at trial, the other entities involved will be notified of a post-trial proceeding.

The case was originally filed in federal court but was dismissed in May 2018 and was introduced in Racine Circuit Court last August.

So far, the village has transferred about 877 acres of acquired property to Foxconn for the Wisconn Valley project.

Available parcels of land in the Foxconn area not transferred to the company include: in Area I (south of Braun Road, west of Highway H and north of Highway KR), one home owned by Jim and Kim Mahoney and two parcels of land along the Frontage Road which include the Jensen property; in Area II (north of Braun Road, west of Highway H and south of Highway 11), 420 acres owned by the Creuziger family; and in Area III (south of Braun Road, north of Highway KR, east of Highway H and west of 90th Street) one parcel of vacant land consisting of 2.8 acres.

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Ricardo Torres covers federal, state and Racine County politics along with the Village of Mount Pleasant. He bleeds Wisconsin sports teams.

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