Facing bankruptcy, Highland Park settles lawsuit over seized … – WXYZ 7 Action News Detroit

Posted: May 18, 2023 at 1:32 am

HIGHLAND PARK, Mich. (WXYZ) Highland Park city officials agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by a couple whose building the city seized in 2020, then offered to return in exchange for two new police cars.

The city agreed to pay $300,000 to settle the suit, admitting to no wrongdoing.

The settlement, recommended by Mayor Glenda McDonald and approved by the city council in March, comes as the city teeters on the edge of bankruptcy, struggling to provide basic city services.

RELATED: Highland Park seized their building; the price to get it back was 2 new police cars

This never should have happened, this does not happen in America, said attorney Marc Deldin, who represented the Bloomfield Hills couple whose building was seized. This doesnt happen anywhere else in Michigan, only in Highland Park.

As 7 Action News first revealed last year, Highland Parks then-Mayor Hubert Yopp and city attorney Terry Ford seized the 13,000 square former church in 2020. Its owners were using the building to grow medical marijuana.

The husband and wife had secured a license to grow it, but Yopp claimed it was an illegal drug operation. Criminal charges were never filed.

According to the buildings owners, the city offered to return the building in exchange for two new police cars.

RELATED: Highland Park to return seized building after asking for new police cars in exchange

The offer, spelled out in court records and e-mails, said the city would return the building after receiving two vehicles totaling nearly $70,000.

The buildings owners refused.

A day after 7 Action News reported on the seizure, the city returned the building to its owners.

In March, the city settled the lawsuit filed by the couple whose building was seized, admitting to no wrongdoing and agreeing to pay them $300,000.

In a city starved of resources, it could go a long way, said Ken Bates, a Highland Park resident and former city council member.

Today, the city is staring down bankruptcy and remains on the hook for a $24 millionwater bill it cant afford to pay.

We could use equipment from our fire department, equipment for our police department, road repair equipment, DPW equipment, programming for residents, children and seniors, Bates said. Every dollar counts.

City officials say their insurance carrier is picking up half the cost of the settlement, leaving the Highland Park on the hook for $150,000.

Attorney Marc Deldin says with a new mayor and interim police chief, hes hopeful this sorry and costly chapter in the citys history wont repeat itself.

I hope the people of Highland Park continue putting in quality officials, Deldin said. They keep the police chief and they dont go back to how things used to be.

Reached for comment, former Mayor Yopp said the city was still right to have seized the building.

Contact 7 Investigator Ross Jones at ross.jones@wxyz.com or at (248) 827-9466.

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Facing bankruptcy, Highland Park settles lawsuit over seized ... - WXYZ 7 Action News Detroit

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