Michigan Court Rejects Noisy Steel Company's Attempt to Intimidate Quiet Neighborhood

Affiliate: ACLU of Michigan
April 26, 2001 12:00 am

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DETROIT– Supporting the public’s right to speak out on public issues without fear of retaliation, a Macomb County Circuit Court judge today dismissed a lawsuit brought by Kendor Steel company against a woman who complained about noise coming from the company’s plant.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, which filed a friend-of-court brief on behalf of the woman, lauded the decision of Judge Pat Donofrio to reject the business’ attempt to silence the legitimate complaints of citizens through intimidation.

“Kendor Steel’s lawsuit was an abuse of the legal process,” said Kary Moss, ACLU of Michigan Executive Director. “It was brought by a well-financed neighborhood bully to intimidate residents brave enough to stand up for their rights. This case illustrates the need for legislation to protect citizens rights to speak out against wrong-doing.”

Kendor Steel, based in Fraser, installed a 500-ton stamping press in June 1999. Shortly thereafter Ms. Donahue and her neighbors began experiencing intolerable and continuous pounding and vibrations in what was once a quiet neighborhood.

Ms. Donahue and her neighbors complained to the City’s Building Department, the City Manager, the City Council, and the Police Department from the onset of the problem until the Fall of 2000.

Immediately following the one and only ticket Kendor received, Ms. Donahue was served with a lawsuit.

In today’s ruling, Judge Donofrio held that Kendor Steel’s claims of malicious prosecution and intentional infliction of emotional distress against Ms. Donohue were without merit. He also adopted the position of the ACLU that Ms. Donohue had a constitutional right to complain to the police about the noise.

Although the dismissal of the case against Ms. Donahue does nothing to stop the underlying noise problem, she said that she is delighted with the judge’s decision.

“When the ACLU got involved, I was no longer afraid to speak out and knew that I could win,” said Donahue. “God Bless the ACLU!”

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