lawsuit

Tim Evanson via Wikimedia Commons

This week, a Cheboygan District Court Judge ruled that Chesapeake Energy will go to trial for alleged fraud.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has accused the Oklahoma-based energy company of swindling landowners in northern Michigan.

Peter Payette is with our partners at Interlochen Public Radio and he has been covering this story.

How did all of this start?

Around May of 2010, the state auctioned off the right to drill for oil and gas on public land.

"And that auction saw prices that were astronomical. The state in one day raised as much money from the sale of oil and gas rights as it had raised in its entire history," Payette says. "And that's because out-of-state companies believed that by using these newer methods of horizontal hydraulic fracturing that they could make a lot of money by drilling deep down in the ground and taking out natural gas."

These companies went out to private landowners that summer and asked to explore their properties for oil and gas. The landowners signed leases. "And those promised what is called a 'order of payment' and in many cases the landowners did not receive payment and may say they were cheated and are owed money," Payette says.

The MGM Grand Casino in Detroit
Mike Russell

Current and former employees of the Detroit MGM Grand Casino are suing the casino for unfair labor practices.

What could be up to 200 employees claim the casino refused to pay floor supervisors for overtime.

The Fair Labor Standards Act says certain employees who work more than 40 hours a week are entitled to overtime pay.

But the complaint claims the casino hasn't done that.

Megan Bonanni is a lawyer for the employees. She says what the floor supervisors are asking for is only fair.

Citizen groups are suing the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality over an air permit it granted to a Dearborn steel plant.

Two months ago, the MDEQ issued the permit to the Severstal plant. It allowed the facility to continue polluting at levels that had previously been cited by the state.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

McDonald's is being sued for allegedly stealing the wages of fast-food workers in Michigan.

The lawsuits allege workers at 21 McDonald's restaurants in Detroit are forced to pay for their own uniforms and work off the clock.

“These unlawful practices have flourished in part because most of the workers are so financially vulnerable that they are afraid to lodge the claims on their own behalf,” says attorney Joe Sellers, who’s handling similar lawsuits in California and New York.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A federal judge in Iowa has dismissed a Michigan couple's lawsuit that claimed butter flavorings in microwave popcorn left the husband with lung disease.

U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett ruled Tuesday that Michigan's three-year statute of limitations barred the lawsuit brought by David and Barbara Stults of Grand Rapids.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - A Detroit-area judge wants a federal appeals court to intervene in a lawsuit linked to the accidental consumption of alcohol by a child at a Detroit Tigers game.

The parents of Leo Ratte are suing Judge Judy Hartsfield. In 2008, the 7-year-old boy was temporarily removed from them when his father mistakenly gave him Mike's Hard Lemonade at Comerica Park.

wikipedia.org

The Arab-American Civil Rights League says hundreds of Arab-Americans received letters from Huntington Bank this year explaining that their accounts have been closed, shut down or terminated.

No reason was given for closing the accounts, and no other link exists between the private and business account holders, except that they are all Arab-American owned accounts.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

An effort to roll back Flint’s recent spike in water and sewer rates has failed.

On Friday, a Genesee County Circuit Court judge dismissed a lawsuit against the city of Flint.

Flint's city council president sued, after the mayor, then later the state appointed emergency manger, increased city water and sewer rates. The increases effectively doubled the rate for city water customers

City leaders claim the rate increase was needed to pay for rising water system expenses.

dow.com

A federal judge has slapped Midland-based Dow Chemical with a billion dollar judgment in a price fixing case. The company allegedly colluded with its competitors to fix the price of urethane.

The collusion allegedly occurred between 1998 and 2003. Urethane is used in automotive, construction, appliance and furniture products.

In February, a jury turned in a 400 million dollar verdict against Dow Chemical. This week, a federal judge tripled the penalty to $1.2 billion.   

Dow plans to appeal the verdict. BASF, Huntsman International and Lyondell Chemical Company have already reached out of court settlements with the plaintiffs.

DETROIT (AP) - Three Ohio drivers are suing Ford Motor Co., claiming the company's six-cylinder EcoBoost engine is defective.

The lawsuit says the 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost engine can shudder, shake and rapidly lose power while drivers are trying to accelerate. It says more than 100 drivers have complained about the engine to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Birmingham Schools Face Lawsuit Over Fees

Jan 2, 2013
OliviaBurns / MorgueFile.com

A lawsuit filed against Birmingham Public Schools says the district is violating state policy which bars mandatory special fees.  

Gym clothes, combination locks, and student planners are all common purchases for back to school shoppers.

But the lawsuit, brought by parents of a sixth grader in Birmingham, says the district cannot require these annual purchases. 

user elioja / Flickr

The future of medical marijuana dispensaries and growing cooperatives are on the line with two cases before the Michigan Supreme Court. The court heard arguments on those cases Thursday.

Isabella County Prosecutor Risa Scully said the medical marijuana act does not allow dispensaries where patients can share marijuana with each other.

“The act clearly delineates two methods in which a qualified patient may obtain their marijuana—they may grow it themselves or they may designate a caregiver to grow it for them,” Scully said.

Former Flint Mayor Don Williamson.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Former Flint Mayor Don Williamson is suing the city after officials demanded that he pay out $4.5 million awarded to police officers in a 2011 discrimination suit.

Williamson is arguing that city officials violated his constitutional rights when they asked a judge to require the former mayor pay the sum, Kristin Longley of the Flint Journal reports:

MARQUETTE, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan inmate who blamed prison officials for his bad teeth has another cavity to fill: a $353 bill for his failed lawsuit.

A judge has ordered Jerry Flanory to pay for transcript costs, copy fees and a nominal $20 for the state's cost of the one-day trial. The money will go to the state of Michigan.

Flanory claimed his teeth and gums suffered because he was cut off from toothpaste at a prison in the Upper Peninsula. The state denied the allegations and said the Flint man had only five teeth when he entered prison.

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) - Operators of a Haiti orphanage are suing journalist Mitch Albom and one of his charities, claiming the best-selling author broke terms of an agreement about running the orphanage after the devastating January 2010 earthquake.

The Caring and Sharing Mission charity and its Inkster, Michigan founder, the Reverend John Hearn, filed a lawsuit in a Pontiac court this week claiming the Detroit Free Press columnist and his A Hole in the Roof Foundation didn't follow an operating agreement they entered into with the Port-au-Prince mission after the quake.

Michigan’s Department of Human Services is being sued for failing to disclose to parents that their adoptive children had special needs and therefore qualified for federal aid.

David Kallman is an attorney representing 8 families in the case.  He says because they didn’t know their children had disabilities, so they missed a deadline to claim these benefits for their adopted children, and are now struggling with major medical bills.

He says the families love their kids and want to help them.   But the expenses are decimating them.

A spokesman for DHS says they can’t comment on the case, since the suit won’t be filed until tomorrow, but that they investigate all allegations into wrongdoing.

- Chris Edwards, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Rio TInto Eagle Mine, Oct. 2010
Rio Tinto Eagle Mine

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Holmes Bell has refused to halt construction of a nickel and copper mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

In an order signed today, Bell rejected a request by the Huron Mountain Club, a private sportsmen's group, to stop work on the mine while the club's lawsuit works its way to trial.

The exclusive club owns about 19,000 acres of forest land in the Upper Peninsula's Marquette County, including an 11-mile stretch of the Salmon Trout River, according to the AP.

Flagstar Bank branch in Ann Arbor
Dwight Burdette / Wikimedia Commons

Some current and former employees will get another chance to pursue a lawsuit against Flagstar Bank over company stock in their retirement accounts.

A federal appeals court has reinstated the case in Detroit federal court. The Troy-based bank is blamed for offering Flagstar stock to employees at a time when the bank was in perilous shape.

Flagstar's stock price lately has been under a dollar, compared with nearly $15 in 2007. The court says the lawsuit raises a "plausible claim" that Flagstar breached its fiduciary duty to employees during that time.

The bank has said workers made their own investment decisions.

Flagstar recently announced its first profitable quarter since 2008. It has 111 branches in Michigan.

stmarylansing.org

The Michigan Catholic Conference has filed a lawsuit in federal court to block an Obama administration rule that requires employer health plans to offer contraception coverage. The Catholic church opposes birth control.

The Catholic Conference offers health coverage to about 10,000 employees and their dependents at Catholic parishes, schools and charities across the state.

Paul Long is the president of the Michigan Catholic Conference.

“Inasmuch we provide this benefit, this mandate would be very restrictive upon us," Long said. "We felt that we needed to act in a way that was in keeping with who we are and being able to continue to provide the plan that we’ve always provided.”

The lawsuit says the contraception requirement violates the church’s religious freedom. It was filed at a federal court in Ohio. Franciscan University of Steubenville-Ohio is also part of the lawsuit.

John Klein Wilson / Michigan Radio

This past week, Michigan Radio's The Environment Report brought us a special series looking at the connections between cancer and the environment.

Producers looked at our current understanding of how the chemicals in our lives affect us, how neighbors in the White Lake area in West Michigan are mapping cancers, how some mothers in St. Clair County are asking why their children developed a rare type of cancer, how fights over potential carcinogens play out in court, and what scientists are doing to unlock the secrets of our genes.

They also collected stories of courage and warmth from those people affected by cancer around Michigan and posted their stories on a Tumblr page.

And finally, people were invited to ask questions in a "live-chat" with a noted expert on how some toxic substances might affect our health, Dr. Arnold Schecter of the University of Texas.

Here is a roundup of the stories produced for this series:

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