By Jim Newell
Review Staff Writer
Orion Township received news on Monday that the judge in its case against the Detroit Free Press denied a partial summary judgement and preliminary injunction request from the Free Press.
“This is really good news. Essentially the judge is asking for discovery,” Supervisor Chris Barnett said at the Board of Trustees budget workshop on Monday. “This is not a victory, but it is good news because the judge isn’t buying their story.”
At issue is the Free Press weekly publication Select, a mix of editorial content, advertising and coupons, that arrives in a plastic bag along driveways on a weekly basis and is delivered free of charge to households, including about 2,500 homes in Orion Township since 2012.
Barnett said he’s received hundreds of complaints from residents who don’t want Select delivered to their homes, and that the Free Press opt-out option isn’t working.
The township issued two littering tickets to the Free Press on April 20 and May 26 of this year. The Free Press then filed a $5 million lawsuit against the township.
The Free Press had requested a partial summary judgement and a preliminary injunction motion during a hearing on Sept. 22 before Judge George Caram Steeh, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan Southern Division, according to a document provided to The Lake Orion Review.
In the court document, the Free Press’ request was denied without prejudice. The document also states:
“At the hearing (Sept. 22), the plaintiff’s counsel represented that it only delivered Select to residents who had requested delivery of the publication. Prior to issuing its ruling here, the court would like to be fully informed as to the process for determining which residents received Select, and how plaintiff enforced its opt-out program for those residents notifying the plaintiff that they wished to cease delivery of Select.
“Because these facts and others that may be the proper subject of discovery, will enlighten this court’s decision on the issue of liability and injunctive relief, plaintiff’s motion for partial summary judgment and for a preliminary injunction is denied without prejudice pending further factual development,” the ruling stated.
While the case will continue, Barnett said the township will not give up in its position to support its residents, and the that the township is the defendant in the case.
“If the Free Press would like to drop their case, we would welcome that,” Barnett said. “But it doesn’t appear they are going too.”
By Jim Newell