Bozeman Dino Museum Sues Over $2M Deal

By Beacon Staff

BILLINGS – The Museum of the Rockies has sued a Bozeman developer, alleging the failure to pay a $2 million endowment promised in return for the developer using the museum and its top paleontologist, Jack Horner, in a marketing campaign.

The lawsuit was filed Friday in District Court in Gallatin County. It seeks to enforce a 2007 contract between the museum and developer Wade Dokken.

Dokken is the former chief executive of the insurance company American Skandia. He more recently founded the Ameya Preserve, an 11,000-acre luxury development in the Paradise Valley south of Livingston.

The lawsuit claims Dokken used Horner’s name and that of the museum to market Ameya, but never held up his end of the bargain with the $2 million endowment.

“This is not a case of a donor unable to fulfill a pledge, but rather a businessman who took advantage of the Museum’s goodwill to try to sell real estate in a commercial development and then refused to pay,” the museum said in a statement issued by its attorney, James Goetz.

Dokken did not immediately return telephone messages left by The Associated Press.

According to the lawsuit, his marketing efforts on behalf of Ameya included publicizing Jack Horner as the leader of fossil digs at the preserve. Also, Horner’s position at the museum was renamed the “Ameya Preserve Curator of Paleontology.”

In April, Dokken gave notice that he was abandoning Ameya and could not meet the terms of his contract, according to the museum.

Separate from the endowment, Goetz said Dokken gave the museum a total of $120,000 in 2007 and 2008 — part of a pledge to pay more than $1.2 million over 15 years toward the museum’s field research. He said no payment has been received this year.

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