The reason for the increasing costs, happening from Grosse Pointe Farms to Hamtramck, vary. Some are related to cases involving property owners challenging tax assessments; others are from residents suing cities for basement flooding.
A lawsuit was filed Dec. 7 in Wayne County Circuit Court, for example, against Dearborn Heights in which class action status was requested. In that lawsuit, Ali and Rola Abdallah allege that the city’s negligence in maintaining and operating its sewer system was to blame for a May 25 backup that filled their home with feces.
The city is fighting the lawsuit and the cost is climbing. Legal bills so far this fiscal year, which ends June 30, are a little more than $700,000, and are expected to surpass last year’s legal bills of $771,700. Two years ago, the city paid $600,000 in legal bills, according to the mayor’s office.
Dearborn Heights Mayor Dan Paletko said if the Abdallahs’ lawsuit is successful, city officials would place the judgment on residents’ water bills, or property owners would have to pay a special millage.
“When you sue the city, you’re really suing yourself,” Paletko said.
But Steven Liddle, of Detroit law firm Macuga, Liddle & Dubin, which represents plaintiffs in the lawsuits against Dearborn Heights, said legal bills might go up but suing cities often forces them to correct the problem. “Why do some cities flood repeatedly?” he asked.
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