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Oakland County lawsuit against MIDD dismissed

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published August 30, 2019

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MACOMB COUNTY/OAKLAND COUNTY — On Aug. 23, an Oakland County judge dismissed a lawsuit against the Macomb Interceptor Drain District, or MIDD, in relation to funds expended from a sinkhole collapse in late 2016.

Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Cheryl A. Matthews dismissed the suit, filed by Oakland County and the Oakland-Macomb Interceptor Drain District, or OMIDD, on April 4 of this year.

The OMIDD interceptor, which connects Macomb and Oakland counties, is made up of 12 Oakland County communities and 11 Macomb County communities.

Oakland County representatives claimed that the  OMIDD was the aggrieved party following a sewer interceptor collapse that occurred Christmas Eve 2016 in Fraser, on a pipe owned and operated by the MIDD. Judge Matthews’ ruling dismissed all claims made by the OMIDD against the MIDD.

The OMIDD is composed of a three-member board made up of Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner Jim Nash, Michigan Department of Agriculture representative Mike Gregg and Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller. Gregg and Nash voted in favor of bringing the suit forward.

“We tried to talk OMIDD out of it, but they would not be dissuaded,” Miller stated in a press release Aug. 26. “This was a very expensive, unnecessary exercise. Now that it has been dismissed, we can put all of our focus on negotiations with the insurance carrier, so we can recoup our expenses in the costly repair of the 15 Mile Road interceptor.”

Miller continued by saying the OMIDD lawsuit was done “solely to obstruct and interfere” with the MIDD’s effort in seeking insurance recovery, as related to water hammers allegedly caused by an OMIDD construction project.

This past April, Nash said, $180 million was spent to make repairs to the OMIDD system. He said the OMIDD sought “a declaratory judgment and a statement of what the truth is,” adding, “We want a fair reading of what’s going on.”

“As far as we know, (the MIDD) didn’t do anything to fix their part of the system, and they never insured it,” Nash said in April, noting that actions preceded Miller taking over as MCPWO commissioner. “About a year ago, MIDD notified us that they had made a claim on the (2016 collapse). They started a claim, but never showed us any evidence of our fault. Then they sent us a note that said if we didn’t agree to foot our part of the bill, they would file suit.”

Earlier this year, on April 9, the MIDD filed a lawsuit in Macomb County Circuit Court against three local construction and sewer operation firms as a means of recouping financial losses due to the 2016 sinkhole on 15 Mile Road.

The MIDD is continuing those legal efforts.

“All we have ever been seeking is payment for our loss in the 15 Mile Road collapse,” Miller said.

Miller thanked MCPWO’s legal counsel, Joe Viviano and Ben Aloia, for their work in this lawsuit.

Staff Writer Tiffany Esshaki contributed to this story.