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Township faces lawsuit over 2011 missing-tractor case



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August 08, 2012 - Wallace Parker believes the township owes him an apology, and he's decided to sue both Independence Township and Trustee Neil Wallace to get it.

Parker filed a complaint on Aug. 2 in which he accuses the township and Wallace of "Defamation and Disparagement of reputation." He also includes a "Complaint for Declaration of Innocence" in his $25,000 suit.

The lawsuit stems from a July 2011 incident. According to Parker's complaint, the township hired private investigator Linda Milam to find a missing tractor. In her search for the tractor, Parker believes she trespassed on his property, examined and photographed his farm equipment, and looked in his windows.

As a result of the investigation of his tractor, Parker feels his reputation has been damaged and wants Neil Wallace and the township to "just indicate publicly that you made a mistake, you were wrong, and you apologize," he said.

On the other hand, Wallace suspects Parker has other motives.

"There's absolutely no merit to a political suit rather than a lawsuit. Mr. Parker is an attorney, and he knows there's no merit to it," said Wallace.

He calls Parker's complaint a "political suit" because Wallace, a candidate for supervisor, feels it is politically motivated and points out the filing was five days before the primary election. Parker is a proponent of Todd Waring, who is also running for township supervisor.

Wallace has spoken with township attorney Steve Joppich and believes "after the election is over, the township attorney will be requesting of Mr. Parker that he dismiss [the case]. I am confident that he will agree to dismiss it because he will otherwise be ordered to pay our costs for a frivolous lawsuit."

Wallace describes the catalyzing incident with the farm equipment differently. When Parker's tractor was identified as the one the township might be missing because it was "the same make, model, and color," the township sent their investigator, Wallace explained.

The private investigator "went out there, knocked on the doors and nobody answered, kinda looked around a little bit" until a caretaker came out who said it was Parker's tractor, said Wallace.

After the caretaker confirmed Parker owned the tractor, "end of story, or so it should have been," Wallace said. "This lawsuit comes about of a township's legitimate investigation, but the township did not make it public Mr. Parker did."

Clarkston News reporter
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