A Small Michigan Town to Pay $140,000 in Legal Fees for a $500 Case
A tiny township in Michigan now owes a couple residents more than their annual budget.
Greenleaf Township can be found in Michigan's thumb just South of Bad Axe. The very small township has a population under 800 total residents. A town of this size will be hard pressed to come up with $140,000. Township officials will have to figure out how to do so after losing a $500 judgement.
Christina Gibbard and Shelly Cook sued Greenleaf Township alleging open meeting violations. Gibbard and Cook won that case and were awarded $500 back in 2018. Here's where things get weird. Christina and Shelly spent around $140,000 in legal fees in order to win that $500 judgement. That means, by law, Greenleaf Township owes a lot of money according to The Detroit News,
The township argued that the fees were excessive when compared to the small amount awarded to Christina Gibbard. But the court noted that state law grants “actual” legal fees to the winning side in an open meetings claim, not “reasonable.”
The $140,000 now owed to the two residents is more than the township's annual budget. So, how does this get paid? Does the township have insurance for this kind of thing? Are property taxes about to go way up in Sanilac County? There's no word on what the township's plan is or if there is a plan yet.