Traverse City Record-Eagle

Meijer-Acme Township Dispute

September 25, 2010

Acme-Meijer settlement amount resealed

Former Meijer insurer is suing retailer

TRAVERSE CITY — Meijer Inc. attorneys quickly moved to reseal a confidential settlement amount they mistakenly left inside a public court file.

Meijer received a temporary reprieve and several letters are back under seal until another hearing is scheduled, though opposing attorneys in the dispute between Meijer and its insurance companies objected to sealing the settlement amount.

Meijer now must convince 13th Circuit Court Judge Philip Rodgers that he should continue to conceal evidence that Meijer paid former Acme Township Treasurer Bill Boltres $2 million to end his lawsuit.

"They're denying reality," said Joseph Quandt, attorney for American Home Assurance Company, a former Meijer insurer that is suing the Grand Rapids-based retailer. "Our position is it's already in the public forum and resealing it is basically form over substance."

New York based American Home sued Meijer in hopes it won't have to pay off $2.2 million of the $4.2 million Meijer paid to Acme Township officials to settle various lawsuits that stemmed from a land-use dispute that began during the mid-2000s.

The Boltres settlement amount was confidential, but Meijer failed to redact the settlement figure in court filings in its case with American Home.

The Record-Eagle published the settlement amount on Sept. 16 and Meijer's lawyers contacted Rodgers the same day. Rodgers held a conference call Sept. 17 with all the attorneys, who couldn't agree whether the documents should be resealed.

Rodgers signed an order that temporarily sealed the documents, told the insurance companies to file their objections, and he'll schedule a hearing.

American Home filed its objection late Thursday, Quandt said.

"I just see no purpose in sealing a document that's already been unsealed," Quandt said.

"It wasn't really clear what (Meijer attorneys) were expecting ... but sealing a record here is an extremely rare event," Rodgers said. "I don't think it's reasonable for them to rely on a non-lawyer county court clerk to sift through that entire file looking for items that should be sealed."

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