Arguments set in land use case

The Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in the appeal of a couple’s dispute with Worth Township over the construction of the couple’s dream home. The plaintiffs said they found themselves in a constant battle with the township while trying to build their house.

Bloomfield Hills attorney Daniel Dalton, of Dalton Tomich PLC, said his clients, George and Margaret Paeth, won a unanimous verdict of $600,000 issued by a federal jury in August 2010. The Court also awarded nearly $300,000 in attorney fees.

The battle reached a pinnacle in November 2007, when the township unlawfully posted a stop work order without any basis. The township admitted it posted the order because the Paeths won a zoning appeal in the Sanilac Circuit Court, said Dalton. The jury, he added, found that the township’s acts deprived his clients of their constitutional rights.

The Paeth vs. Worth Township verdict remains the largest procedural due process and First Amendment retaliation case in the history of the federal courts within the Eastern District of Michigan and one of the largest such verdicts rendered to date nationwide, according to Dalton. Worth Township appealed.

Said Dalton, “the Paeth vs. Worth Township verdict was based upon the township’s deliberate and spiteful violation of the Paeths’ constitutional rights.”

Since the verdict, the court ordered the township to assess all property owners to pay for the judgment and the township collected $1 million. Additionally, the case created havoc in local government; the township clerk was recalled, two council members quit and the township supervisor lost his bid for re-election.

Arguments will be heard April 11, 2012, before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.


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