On March 3, the Van Buren Township Board of Trustees met in closed-door session to consult with the township attorney on a proposed settlement in the law suit brought by the township’s former public safety director.
On March 23, the board met again in closed session to consider the insurance attorney’s recommendation for a settlement in the case.
After being fired last May, Gerald Champagne filed suit in federal court against the township, Supervisor Paul White and Trustee Al Ostrowski claiming discrimination.
He demanded a jury trial and asked for $1.1 million.
As the case inched along in the federal court, the plaintiff and the defendants filed their witness lists by the Feb. 26 deadline.
Champagne’s witness list has a listing of 26; the VBT witness list contains 60.
Champagne’s witnesses are: Gerald Champagne, Sharry Budd (Township Treasurer), Kenneth Brooks (Police Captain), Gregory Laurain (Police Captain), Al Ostrowski, Carl McClanahan, Cindy King (former Township Supervisor), Paul White, Phillip Hart (Township Trustee), Kathleen Cline (Deputy Clerk), Township Clerk Leon Wright, Joann Montgomery (Clerk in the Township Clerk’s office), Bruce Ross (Director of Parks and Recreation), Dennis Brooks (Police Lieutenant), Marc Abdilla (Police Detective/Union President), Linda Combs (Director of Senior Citizen Services), Ronald Folks (Fire Department Battalion Chief), Angela Hayes (Firefighter), Dennis (last name unknown – repair person at Apollo Fire Equipment, 12584 Lakeshore Dr., Romeo, MI 48065), Guy Hostetler (Vocational/Employment Expert), Custodian of records for the Township of Van Buren, Custodian of records for the Township of Van Buren police department/department of public safety, Any witness named by another party, any witness named in discovery, all necessary rebuttal witnesses, and plaintiff reserves the right to amend or supplement this Witness List.
The defendants’ (VBT) witness list is: Gerald Champagne, Paul White, Al Ostrowski, Sharry Budd, Kenneth Brooks, Gregory Laurain, Phillip Hart, Kathleen Cline, Joann Montgomery, Bruce Ross, Dennis Brooks, Marc Abdilla, Linda Combs, Ronald Folks, Angela Hayes, Dennis Unknown Last name (12584 Lakeshore Drive, Romeo, MI 48065), Records Custodian City of Romulus, Records Custodian Schoolcraft College, Records Custodian – potential employment (Lathrup Village, Schoolcraft College, University of Michigan, DTE Energy, U.S. Gov. Office of Professional Management, Central Michigan University, URS Corp., Kmart (Farmington), Target (Dearborn, Sterling heights, Shelby Township), U.S. Army (Management Service Spec), TSA, Great Lakes Works (USS), Abercrombie & Fitch, Sears, Marshall’s, Kohl’s, Cabela’s, U.S. Gov’t OASAM-Program Manager, Edsel & Eleanor Ford House, Pittsfield Township, Dearborn Police Department), Charles Bazzy, John Dimech (Gordon Chevrolet), John Fuller (Lansing), Records Custodian Winder Police Equipment (Southgate), Craig N. Atchinson (Atchinson Ford Sales), Leon Wright, Vernon Morse, Carl McClanahan, Barbara Greenhill, Steve Rankin, Denise Partridge, David Champagne, Adam Byrd, Janice Wright, Ken Landstrom, Patricia Ashley, Susan Ireland, John Hayden, Dan Besson, Richard Hamill, Ken Burke, Charles Dewitt, Douglas Doty, Ken Floro, Bill Gage, John Henderson, Anthony Karver, Curtis Lunsford, David McInally, Nick Robson, Linda Forsberg, Duane Smith, all medical, counselors or individuals providing counseling or psychiatric or medical care therapy, treatment or evaluation of Plaintiff, Economic and vocational rehabilitation expert witnesses to be identified, medical experts to be identified, Reggie Ion, Mack Black, All witnesses on Plaintiff’s Witness List, All rebuttal witnesses, All witnesses identified in depositions and documents produced by Plaintiff and/or Defendant, and Defendant reserves the right to supplement this Witness List should new witnesses become known through the course of discovery.
Attorney for Champagne is Raymond Guzall III of Seifman & Guzall, Farmington Hills.
Attorneys for the Township of Van Buren, Paul White, and Al Ostrowski are Eileen K. Husband and Patrick R. Sturdy of Cummings, McClorey, Davis & Acho, Livonia.
Federal judge on the case is Marianne O. Battani, who has set the deadlines for steps in the law suit: discovery cutoff, April 30; dispositive motions filed by May 14. After that, case evaluation will be determined and settlement conference set by the court.
Related law suit
In a related law suit, filed by Kenneth Brooks, Gregory Laurain, Dennis Brooks and Kenneth Floro against Van Buren Township and Supervisor White, the time has been extended again for the defendants to respond to the complaint.
The new deadline is March 19 for attorney Husband to reply.
The four police officers claim racial discrimination because they were not named public safety director to replace Champagne because they are white.
Current interim public safety director is Carl McClanahan, an African-American.