A judge Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit filed by Frank C. Max Jr. and two other Democratic leaders against the Erie County Democratic elections commissioner and other party officials. The judge ruled they missed the deadline for filing suit.
The suit in State Supreme Court sought to nullify the election of Jeremy J. Zellner as chairman of the Erie County Democratic Party and force a new vote.
Max’s attorneys have said improper redistricting of election districts in Amherst and other areas, engineered by Democratic Elections Commissioner Dennis E. Ward, unfairly weighted the votes of committee members from some districts toward Zellner.
Zellner defeated Max with about 57 percent of committee members’ weighted votes to Max’s 43 percent at the party’s Sept. 29 reorganizational meeting.
Justice Deborah A. Chimes ruled that the lawsuit was filed too late, according to those involved in the case.
“She ruled the Elections Board had taken its action on June 1, 2012, in connection with the creation of the 2012 redistricting plan,” said Joseph G. Makowski, one of the lawyers for Max.
“We had challenged that,” Makowski said. “We believe the board took action on the plan after June 1.”
According to Chimes’ verbal ruling, the suit should have been filed by Oct. 1, within four months of the board’s action, Makowski said. The lawsuit was filed Oct. 5.
West Seneca Democratic Chairman Daniel S. McParlane and John F. Fracos, a Buffalo zone chairman, joined Max, chairman of the Cheektowaga Democratic Committee, in the filing of the lawsuit.
Makowski said the Board of Elections took action on the redistricting plan as late as July 3.
“But she determined as a matter of law the board had completed its state action by June 1,” Makowski said.
In a written statement, Max and McParlane said they were disappointed but not surprised by the decision.
The two said they “remain very confident in their case.” They said they asked their attorneys to file an emergency expedited appeal.
Ward, who has previously called Max “a sorry loser,” said the lawsuit has not worried him.
“There was no reason to lose any sleep over it,” Ward said after Chimes’ ruling. “We saw it for what it was: a political lawsuit.”
In addition to Ward, the suit named Zellner, Republican Elections Commissioner Ralph M. Mohr, former Democratic Party Chairman Leonard Lenihan and the Democratic committee as defendants.