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Township triumphs in court

$5,000 win in lawsuitagainst Triumph Telecom Systems

December 28, 2011 - Independence Township emerged victorious in a legal fight with Triumph Telecom Systems, Inc.

Trustee David Lohmeier was very happy and said, "it's a good message."

"It tells the staff we need to do things the right way, but it also tells people who want to do business with us we're more than open, but you need to follow the rules," Lohmeier said. "There is no place for backdoor 'I know somebody so I got the deal signed and you can't do anything about it' type of mentality."

Supervisor Dave Wagner hired Triumph Telecom Systems, a telephone system consulting service, without board approval during his first term as supervisor.

In October 2009, Trustee Neil Wallace noticed a payment in the July check run for "CMC Telecom Inc." for $2,597.27 and checked into it.

The board decided to stop the payments. In response, Triumph filed a lawsuit in Oakland County Circuit Court against the township and supervisor for $97,000.

The township argued the contract was not valid because the board did not approve it and filed a counter suit, according to township attorney Steve Joppich,

The court dismissed Triumph's lawsuit, Dec. 5, according to court records. A panel appointed by the court ruled in favor of the township, agreeing the contract was not valid and proposing a $5,000 award to the township. Triumph and the township accepted the agreement, Dec. 22.

According to Wallace, this is an example of the supervisor exceeding his authority and acting without board approval.

"Fortunately this time it was discovered and stopped, although not before it cost the township almost $20,000 in payments to Triumph Telecom and the expense of more than $10,000 in attorney's fees to successfully defend the lawsuit," Wallace said. "This meant the township did not have to pay an estimated $100,000 in improper and unnecessary charges."

The actual amount the township paid in attorney fees has not yet been determined.

Treasurer Curt Carson and Trustee Mark Petterson did not return calls seeking comment.

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