On May 14, 2015, Circuit Court Judge Honorable Leo Bowan rejected, for the second time, the lawsuit filed by Oakland Township Parks Commissioners Ann Marie Rogers and Roger Schmidt, as well as resident Beth Markel, claiming that fellow Parks Commission members had violated the Open Meetings Act. The original lawsuit was filed in February of 2014. Hopefully this issue is now behind us.
As previously reported on this website, and in the Oakland Press, Ann Marie Rogers shared ‘Privileged and Confidential’ material with co-plaintiff Beth Markel, former Trustee Thalmann and Supervisor Gonser. These communications occurred during the litigation period. The matter is being further investigated by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office for possible legal action against Commissioner Rogers and former Trustee Thalmann.
Here is some background on this lawsuit:
- On February 28, 2014, two Parks and Recreation members, Ann Marie Rogers and Roger Schmidt, along with Beth Markel, the wife of Zoning Board of Appeals member John Markel, (the plaintiffs) filed a lawsuit claiming that PRC members Dave Mackley, Colleen Barkham, Alice Tomboulian and Joseph Peruzzi (the defendants) violated the Open Meeting act through email correspondence.
- On December 2, 2014, the defendants filed for ‘summary disposition’ of the case.
- On December 3, 2014, the plaintiffs filed a cross motion for ‘summary disposition’.
- On February 13, 2015, Circuit Court Judge Honorable Leo Bowan granted the defendants request for summary disposition and dismissed the case. He also dismissed the plaintiff’s request for cross summary disposition as “moot”.
Here is a copy of the February 13, 2015 legal ruling for the lawsuit:
- On March 4, 2014, the plaintiffs made a motion for reconsideration in the decision.
- On May 14, 2015, the Judge found:
“This Court finds that plaintiffs’ present motion fails to demonstrate a palpable error by which this Court and the parties have been misled.”
The Judge goes on to say:
“This Court finds that the defendants’ reasoning and arguments in their response to the motion for reconsideration accurately states why this Court granted their – not plaintiffs – summary disposition.”
Here is a copy of the May 14, 2015 legal ruling for the lawsuit:
During this time period, Ann Marie Rogers shared a number of ‘Privileged and Confidential’ documents with Beth Markel, Maureen Thalmann, and Supervisor Gonser. Some of this information pertained to ‘Closed Session’ legal matters. Here are copies of the Township Attorneys’ discoveries regarding inappropriate sharing of “Privileged and Confidential” material.
Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township? The Judge’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit raised by Commissioners Ann Marie Rogers, Roger Schmidt and private citizen Beth Markel, vindicate the other Parks Commission members. This lawsuit has cost the Township in the form of legal fees and reputation.
Ann Marie Rogers disclosure of ‘Privileged and Confidential’ material with a fellow plaintiff and others is under review by the Oakland County Sheriff Office. This matter appears to be much more serious than the alleged open meeting act violations that she claimed occurred. The Judge made his decision on the open meeting matter. It is now up to the Sheriff’s Office to determine if there is sufficient evidence to warrant prosecutorial action.
Hopefully our citizens will consider the actions of our current Township officials when we vote in 2016. Oakland Township deserves better!