Archive for August, 2013

Dearborn Will Not Pay Judgement in Court Case

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

The City of Dearborn is not obligated to pay $1.17 million resulting from a former 19th District Court employee’s federal lawsuit against Judge Mark Somers, according to a decision issued Friday by U.S. District Judge David M. Lawson.

In June 2011, a federal court jury awarded $734,361 in compensatory and punitive damages to former 19th District Court employee Julie Hultgren (formerly Pucci) following her suit against then-Chief Judge Mark Somers of the 19th District Court for violation of her rights under the First Amendment and the Due Process Clause. With attorney’s fees and interest, the judgment entered against Judge Somers totaled $1,173,125.30.

The City has always contended that it is not responsible for paying the judgment. The decision on Friday validates the City’s position.

Mayor Jack O’Reilly said the Legal Department worked diligently to protect taxpayers’ dollars in this case.

Judge Lawson of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan agreed with the City that the federal court had no jurisdiction to enforce a writ of garnishment served on the City. His decision Friday grants the City’s motion to quash the garnishment.

The City of Dearborn is the funding agent for the 19th District Court, but Judge Somers is a judicial officer of and an employee of the State of Michigan. For this reason, the State Attorney General’s office defended Judge Somers at trial.

In addition, the jury verdict was against Somers in his personal capacity, not in his official capacity as the chief judge of the district court.

Judge Lawson’s opinion notes that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that an award of damages against an individual in his personal capacity can only be executed against the individual’s personal assets.

Dearborn Responsible for Maintaining New Train Stop

Monday, August 12th, 2013
Updates on conceptual plans for development of the area surrounding Dearborn's new train station is set for April 8.

Dearborn will be responsible for maintenance costs of the new train station being built on Michigan near Brady. The station is set to open in early 2014.

So Dearborn’s new intermodal passenger rail station, which is getting built at a record pace for its opening in early 2014, will be named after John D. Dingell, Jr., the longest-serving member of Congress.

Mayor John B. O’Reilly, Jr. says he initiated the honor because of Congressman Dingell’s steadfast support of Dearborn and its residents. He has called Dearborn home for decades.

“He has represented Dearborn since 1964. That’s longer than any other city in his historic career,” said O’Reilly, a good friend of the Congressman.

The Dearborn City Council unanimously approved the mayor’s naming proposal.

For those of you wondering who is paying for this monster construction project, $28.2 million is being funded from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The train station is a key component for significant rail initiatives, including the proposed commuter line between Ann Arbor and Detroit, and the high speed rail line between Detroit and Chicago, currently in the works.

For those of you who have asked, the City of Dearborn will be on the hook for maintaining the property, not Amtrak.

Where those funds will come from is yet to be sorted. The city is hoping it will be able to lease space in the new building for other businesses and that rent and taxes from those tenants will cover the building’s upkeep.

It will be interesting to see how all of this sorts itself out. Nothing is ever for free  .  .  .