Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney Allen Telgenhof filed papers last Friday afternoon, Nov. 20, in the Charlevoix County 33rd Circuit Court asking Judge Roy C. Hayes III to grant summary disposition in favor of the State of Michigan in the case against Dennis Hass and Walloon Lake Water System, Inc.
The motion is expected to be heard at 1:45 p.m. on Friday Dec. 18.
“A motion for summary disposition is a request by a party in a lawsuit to end the case without the necessity of a trial because the moving party believes there is no issue of fact to be decided at trial and the party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law,” Telgenhof stated in his Nov. 23 news release.
In late 2012, Dennis Hass was bound over for trial by the 90th District Court on three counts of extortion and two counts of encumbering real property without lawful cause, related to his operation of the Walloon Lake Water System.
On Sept. 10, 2013, Hass and WLWS entered into an agreement with the State of Michigan called an Assurance of Discontinuance where they agreed not to engage in certain prohibited business practices, to pay $7,500 in restitution and not to retaliate against any of the alleged victims from the criminal prosecution.
A week later the criminal charges against Hass were dismissed without prejudice, meaning they could be re-filed in the future.
On June 26, 2015, Hass and WLWS sued Melrose Township and a number of individuals, including police officers, a former assistant prosecuting attorney and five customers of WLWS.
In the suit, Hass and WLWS alleges that all of the defendants conspired to malicious prosecute, falsely arrest and imprison him and to force a sale of the water service without due process.
Telgenhof became aware of this lawsuit in August and warned Hass’s attorney that he considered the suit to be retaliation in violation of the Assurance.
Telgenhof requested the case against the customers be dismissed.
Hass and WLWS offered to dismiss the case temporarily against four of the five customers and only if they agreed to additional conditions.
The customers rejected the offer and are being forced to defend the suit.
Telgenhof then sued Hass and WLWS on behalf of the state on Oct. 14, alleging retaliation in violation of the Assurance and seeking a civil fine of $25,000.
Hass and WLWS answered the lawsuit on November 16.
In an affidavit filed with the motion for summary disposition, Telgenhof stated that he entered into the Assurance to obtain restitution for all of the victims and to allow the state to provide some oversight of the private water system which would not otherwise be allowed.
A key portion of the agreement, according to Telgenhof, was the agreement not to retaliate.
Though Hass and WLWS now claim they only agreed not to retaliate “with (respect to) the actual public service provider/customer relationship,” in an affidavit filed with the court, Telgenhof stated that, “[t]here was never any intention on my part to limit the types of retaliation that Mr. Hass and WLWS would be barred from pursuing…(and) there was no such limitation in the Assurance or any discussion related to such a limitation.”
The clause at issue states that “WLWS (and Hass) will not engage in any retaliatory actions against the customers of WLWS who were victims or alleged victims in the case of People v Hass, Charlevoix County Circuit Court Case Number 12-031-11-FH.”
Telgenhof argues in the pleadings filed in support of the motion that “the term ‘any’ is defined as all-compassing, meaning ‘every’ or ‘all.’ Thus the agreement barred any form of retaliation….”
Hass and WLWS have until December 11 to file a response to the motion.
The pleadings filed on Friday are attached below: