Amicus Brief

Haring, Selma, and Clam Lake Twps v City of Cadillac at COA

Case Year: 2009
Case Forum: Michigan Court of Appeals
Keywords: wastewater treatment, contract, public utility, Clean Water Act, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Amicus Counsel:

Randall W. Kraker (P27776) | Beverly Holaday (P411 05) | Varnum LLP | Bridgewater Place | Grand Rapids, MI49501-0352 | 616-336-6000


The Townships essentially ask the Court to write a new contract which requires the City to continue to provide wastewater treatment services beyond the expiration of the existing contract. “Clear, unambiguous, and definite contractual language must be enforced as written, and courts may not write a different contract for the parties.” The Townships, however, seek to avoid the outcome required by the clear and unambiguous language of the contracts by setting forth a novel argument that the contracts are in fact, ambiguous, and that the expiration date is not really the expiration date. According to the Townships, the May 12,2017, expiration date affects only the “particular terms and conditions of the
1977 and 1980 contracts”, but not the City’s “legal duty to continue providing sewage treatment and disposal services to the Townships after May 12,2017 …. ” Neither the Clean Water Act nor EPA regulations require the City to continue to provide service to the Townships after the expiration of the contracts.


Court of Appeals:
In Docket No. 292122, plaintiff, Haring Charter Township, appeals by leave granted the May 4, 2009, order granting partial summary disposition in favor of defendant, city of Cadillac.
In Docket No. 292164, plaintiff, Selma Township, appeals as of right the May 4, 2009, order granting summary disposition in favor of defendant, city of Cadillac.
We affirm.

MSC requested LDF amicus brief? No

These consolidated cases arise from a dispute about the scope and meaning of contracts between plaintiffs and defendant for the provision of wastewater treatment services to the
townships. By their express terms, these contracts expire on May 12, 2017. After defendant informed plaintiffs that it did not intend to renew the contracts, plaintiffs filed the instant actions
asserting that defendant is obligated to continue providing wastewater treatment and disposal services to them for the “design life” of the treatment system, which plaintiffs assert to be at least 75 years. Plaintiffs do not dispute that the contracts specify an expiration date of May 12, 2017,
but they argue that this date applies only to the particular terms and conditions set forth in the contracts and not to defendant’s obligation to provide wastewater treatment services. Defendant moved for summary disposition, asserting that the contracts expire on May 12, 2017, as clearly
and explicitly stated therein, and that it has no duty to provide wastewater treatment services to plaintiffs beyond that date. The trial court agreed, and granted defendant’s motion.

Case Number: 2009-05-2
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