Saga ends: Authority accepts law firm’s fee settlement offer

Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE – The Downtown Development Authority’s long-standing lawsuit with Butzel Long is done.

City Attorney William Look presented the DDA last month with settlement offer of $10,000 from Butzel Long to end the legal issue.

The authority hired Butzel Long in 2004 in an effort to settle members’ dispute with the City Council over the DDA’s retention of planning consultants RoberThomas. Their intent was to determine whether the DDA was a separate legal entity.

The authority had continued negotiations with RoberThomas on a downtown development plan after the council advised members not to do so.

After Wayne County Circuit Judge Michael Callahan threw out the lawsuit, Butzel Long requested $25,000 from the DDA for legal services. He authorized $10,000 and said the DDA could come back to court if more money was needed.

However, a new DDA board then directed Butzel Long to dismiss the authority’s suit against the city, but the firm came back with a bill for $131,000.

Look said in May that he and representatives of Miller Canfield – the law firm that represented the city in the DDA lawsuit – met with representatives of Butzel Long in September 2006 and requested additional documentation regarding the $131,000 bill.

During the past four years, however, that documentation never was received.

When the firm came forward with an offer to settle the issue for $10,000, DDA members secured a $5,000 budget amendment from the City Council July 19 to combine with $5,000 from the authority’s own budget in order to pay Butzel Long the settlement amount and end the six-year ordeal.

(Contact Chris Jackett at