Dennis and Kathleen Hass and Walloon Lake Water System, Inc. agreed to dismiss their lawsuit against four of their water customers as well as a Melrose Township attorney.
At a Pre-Motion Conference conducted in the US District Court in Grand Rapids, Judge Janet Neff granted the request to dismiss Bunny Marquardt, Lena Carlile, Maud Bray, Todd Reeves and attorney Peter Wendling.
The cases were dismissed with prejudice, meaning they cannot ever be re-filed.
The plaintiffs did not voluntarily dismiss their complaint against a fifth customer, Gale Charbonneau, because Charbonneau has a counter-claim against Hass that is still pending.
“The day this lawsuit was filed, I wrote Mr. Hass’s attorney and told him that it never should have been filed and asked him to dismiss it,” Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney Allen Telgenhof said. “He refused then but yesterday I guess they saw things our way.”
Dennis Hass and WLWS entered into an Assurance of Discontinuance with Telgenhof on September 10, 2013 where they agreed to certain terms regarding the operation of their water system and agreed not to retaliate against any of their customers who were involved in a criminal investigation that occurred in 2012.
In doing so, Telgenhof utilized a statute that is typically used by the attorney general but is available for local prosecutors.
When the Hass and WLWS sued their customers, Telgenhof filed suit in the 33rd Circuit Court, claiming that the action violated the Assurance of Discontinuance and asking the court to order Hass and WLWS to pay a fine.
On December 18, 2015, Judge Roy C. Hayes issued a scathing opinion agreeing with Telgenhof’s position and ordering both Hass and WLWS to each pay $25,000 in civil fines. Hayes called Hass’s actions an “obvious” and “blatant violation of the parties’ agreement” as well as “egregious” and “deplorable.”
Hass and WLWS’s attorney, Hugh Davis, has filed a motion for reconsideration, asking Hayes to revisit his decision. The Court has not yet ruled on the motion.
“I am confident the court was correct and the ruling will be upheld,” Telgenhof said. “By dismissing the case, Mr. Hass has admitted the suit never should have been filed. I intend to pursue this matter and collect the fines that have been levied.”