Five months after a recall vote failed to remove five board directors at the $161 million St. Helens Community Federal Credit Union, a member is suing the credit union in federal court to oust the board directors.
The lawsuit, filed by 10-year member Steven S. Knebel of Scappoose, Ore., claims that the St. Helens, Ore., credit union has refused to comply with its bylaws, permitting the five recalled board directors to continue serving.
SHCFCU CEO/President Brooke VanVleet said the credit union wholeheartedly believes the lawsuit is without merit.
“We are prepared to vigorously defend our position and are confident we will prevail,” she said.
Knebel was part of a group of members who started a recall petition in June 2012 to remove five of the seven board directors after members became upset with the dismissal of former SHCFCU CEO Jeff Schwarz. They also had concerns and questions about a proposed merger with the $152 million Wauna Federal Credit Union in Clatskanie, Ore.
Merger discussions between the two credit unions were called off last year. VanVleet said Tuesday those merger discussions have not resumed nor are there any plans to resume them.
The recall petition led to a special meeting of the members in September 2012 to vote on whether to retain or recall the five board directors, Lea Chitwood, Michael Hafeman, Richard Louie, Marty Borrevik and David Graham. According to SHCFCU, the members voted to retain the board directors.
Knebel contends in his lawsuit, however, that the SHCFCU “counted votes which were not eligible to be counted” under the credit union’s bylaws.
Knebel said he believes the five board members would have been recalled if the credit union counted only the votes of members who attended the special meeting and the mail-in votes from members who requested the mail-in ballots.