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Historic Verdict Secured in Landmark Case

Written by Daniel P. Dalton on August 15, 2010 Category: Appellate and Constitutional Law, Firm News, Land Use and Zoning, Michigan Land Use and Zoning

It has been nearly a month since I last posted a blog entry. The reason is that I have been preparing for, than appearing at, a significant land use trial in the United States District Court in the Eastern District of Michigan before the Honorable David Lawson. After nearly a week of testimony, a jury reached a unanimous verdict on two separate counts in the case of Paeth v. Worth Township on Friday August 13, 2010. The jury awarded the Paeth’s $600,000 representing the largest verdict in the history of the Eastern District of Michigan arising out of a land use First Amendment and Procedural Due Process claim. The testimony in the case confirmed that throughout the past five (5) years, official of Worth Township, Michigan used their governmental powers in an unlawful and spiteful manner to drive the George and Margaret Paeth out of Worth Township because they dared to question the elected officials’ governance. Thereafter, in an attempt to construct their dream home, the Paeths’ found themselves in a constant battle with the Township and its building official, Barb Cutcher, mostly in the issuance and subsequent unlawful revocation of their water and building permits. The battle culminated in November 2007, after the Township, in losing to the Paeths in Circuit Court over a zoning variance, unlawfully issued a stop work order. These acts deprived the Paeths of their constitutional rights – retaliation for exercise of their First Amendment Rights and Procedural Due Process rights. As a result, the Township is financially liable for these deprivations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Worth Township does not have insurance to cover this loss, along with the statutory interest, cost and attorney fees it will be required to pay for its reckless behavior. I am certain the matter will continue to generate interest in the local community.

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