State Court Overturns County Judge in Water Tower Leasing Battle

The Michigan Court of Appeals recently reversed a Montcalm County judge’s orders regarding a lawsuit by the village of Edmore involving a water tower lease, reported The Daily News.

Edmore spent over $90,000 in attorney fees to date on the lawsuit against Crystal Automation Systems (also known as Casair), which rented space on Edmore’s water tower since 2003 for antennas and equipment. In 2015, Edmore contracted with a company to repaint and maintain the village’s water tower, with the stipulation that before work began, all tenants of the tower must remove their equipment.

With that, Casair was ordered to do so or be fined, but the company objected because the lease did not permit the village to order it to vacate the premises. Additionally, Casair cited that if the equipment was removed, local phone, internet, and emergency services would be interrupted, in violation of the law.

Edmore put the project on hold until the spring of 2016, but when Casair still did not remove their equipment, a suit was filed against them and a judge found that Casair had breached the lease. The judge terminated the lease as of May 1, 2016, and ordered Casair to pay Edmore’s reasonable attorney fees and damages it incurred in removing Casair’s equipment from the water tower. However, the Court of Appeals recently ruled there was no contractual language where the parties agreed that Edmore could order Casair to remove its equipment and terminate the lease when the village deemed painting or maintenance necessary.

“The trial court’s decision deprived [Casair] of its benefit of the bargain and created a remedy that did not exist under the lease,” the Court of Appeals wrote. According to Steven Meinhardt, Casair’s owner, “Regardless of the final outcome of this matter, Casair remains committed to providing the village of Edmore’s residents and businesses with high-quality fiber and wireless internet and phone services and related technical support, and our efforts to work for the benefit of the citizens of Edmore, Montcalm County, and surrounding counties will remain unfettered.”

December 6, 2017 

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