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OpenMPE gets notice of its day in court

The OpenMPE volunteers have reported their first scheduled court date to hear motions on the Nov. 23 lawsuit against the group, one filed by former treasurer Matt Perdue. The volunteers' counter-motion to dismiss will be heard April 19, according to vice-chairman Keith Wadsworth. The venue will be the 407th Texas district court in Bexar County, where Perdue filed his suit pro se, representing himself.

OpenMPE's board has been sued, along with Wadsworth and chairman Jack Connor individually, for allegedly not dealing in OpenMPE's fiduciary interests during 2010. (In something of a puzzle, Perdue was a member of the board that he is suing during the period of the alleged injuries.) Perdue's suit claims that Wadsworth contacted a co-location service in San Antonio where Perdue had been denied access to his equipment, a rack that included OpenMPE’s donated servers. Perdue claims in his suit that Wadsworth took a hand in keeping OpenMPE out of the dispute between Purdue and his vendor.

The group had been paying Perdue to host the equipment, a step on a year-long quest to create a new Invent3k server and Jazz outlet. Perdue is suing the co-locator, CCNBI, for turning off the 3000s and other computers over a disputed invoice. Invent3K went online last fall on servers outside of Perdue's control. The board removed him on Nov. 12.

OpenMPE is seeking declaratory judgement -- a judge's dismissal -- to confirm that Perdue "has no rights or interest in, or authority to act on behalf OpenMPE; and the HP Source Code license is owned by OpenMPE."  It has hired a San Antonio lawyer, as well as relying on another attorney, one who Wadsworth retains for his own business matters.

Members have termed the lawsuit a distraction and worse, something that is taking the focus off other matters for the volunteer group's future. OpenMPE still owes Wadsworth $5,000 on a loan taken out to purchase the OpenMPE source code license it was granted one year ago.

As of today, the source is back at HP's offices in California, secretary-treasurer Tracy Johnson confirmed. Perdue was induced to return the source to HP, after claiming he'd already done so, in late January. Johnson said the group was working to get the source back into the volunteers' hands. OpenMPE's got no paid technical staff to work with this source code. Any technical work with source would have to come from contractor engineers.

OpenMPE floated a request on Feb. 14 for more funding in the form of contributions. The volunteers are seeking $50,000 to carry them through legal defenses and the assembly of paid services including resale of HP 3000 software.

If the motion to dismiss the suit is turned down by the judge in Texas, it could be a long wait to take the matter to trial. Court dockets are crowded enough in Bexar County, where Perdue does business, that a November trial date is not out of the question.