Lyon Township Board Facing Second Open Meetings Act Lawsuit
March 15, 2019
A second lawsuit has been filed alleging violations of the Open Meeting s Act by the Lyon Township Board.
Resident Stephen Emsley filed the suit February 5th in Oakland County Circuit Court contending various violations, including that the board has been discussing matters in closed session that should be discussed in open meetings. This is the second lawsuit filed by Emsley on this topic. The first, in 2016, alleged an eight-year pattern of Open Meetings Act violations. The Michigan Court of Appeals eventually ruled against the township and ordered it to pay more than $83,000 in legal fees. When all was said and done, Lyon Township ended up paying $150,000 in fees.
The township has denied the latest allegations, with Township Clerk Michele Cash telling the Oakland Press that while mistakes were made in the past, they have since been corrected. But the latest lawsuit says the township has allowed its attorney to present oral opinions in closed session, a violation of the Open Meetings Act, while also failing to sufficiently identify the matters that they deem exempt from public discussion which are then not reflected in the meeting minutes, also a violation. However, the township's attorney, Anne McClorey McLaughlin, tells WHMI that Mr. Emsley’s allegations are unfounded. "The lawsuit makes claims about what took place in sessions properly closed to the public, which Mr. Emsley and his lawyer could not possibly know. The Board is quite comfortable that it is properly observing its obligations under the Open Meetings Act, and expects that its actions will ultimately be vindicated in a court of law."
Emsley is asking the court to order the township to comply with the Act as well pay all related attorney fees and costs. A trial date has yet to be set in the case. (JK)