The Michigan Supreme Court has denied hearing an appeal of the Michigan Court of Appeals reversal of an Oakland County Circuit Court judgment of more than $9 million against Bloomfield Township in a class action lawsuit over municipal water and sewer rate setting.
The case has been active in the Michigan court system for more than five years.
Prior to the Supreme Court denial, a three-judge panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals unanimously voted in early January to reverse a judgment in excess of $9 million against Bloomfield Township.
“We are proud and gratified with the Michigan Supreme Court’s decision to deny hearing the appeal,” says Rodger Young, founder of Farmington Hills-based Young & Associates and the lead attorney of the highly complex class action legal defense.
“The 38-page detailed opinion issued by the Court of Appeals was extraordinary thorough and set an important precedent for other municipalities and governmental entities. The Michigan Supreme Court recognized and acknowledged the outstanding work with their order.”
The case alleged overcharges to residents. The case was filed in April 2016 by the Royal Oak-based law firm of Hanley Kickham. The plaintiffs law firm has sued other Michigan municipalities for excessive water and sewer fees, asserting that there is an effort on the part of the municipalities to illegally raise revenue.
During oral arguments and in submitted briefs, Bloomfield Township, through Young & Associates, demonstrated the trial court’s failure to presume that the municipality’s water and sewer rates were valid. The Court of Appeals ruled that proper deference was not given to Bloomfield Township.
In order to overcome the presumption of validity, the plaintiff’s counsel was required to provide clear evidence of wrongdoing, which they were unable to produce at an adequate level. Young & Associates successfully argued that the plaintiff only picked certain factors in the Township’s rate setting process which were beneficial to the plaintiff’s case and ignored the overall rate model. The total amount of the judgement reversal was in excess of $9 million.
In addition to the reversal of the financial judgment, the Appeals Court judges ascertained that the trial court was also wrong in requiring the township to document its ratemaking process in specific ways.