The township's ordinance officer and building inspector, Barton Lucas, has also been named a defendant in the suit.
This lawsuit comes as motions are going through Ottawa County District Court on what Todd Glockzin claims are violations of an agreement made with the township in 2010 regarding his heating and cooling business.
Both Township Manager Bill Cargo and Township Supervisor Karl French said the civil actions are “frivolous.” Cargo also said they are “without merit.”
Glockzin, French’s former business partner, claims in the federal lawsuit that the defending parties conspired against him when he was ticketed more than 50 times for not requesting permits for work. Most of the work involved in the case was done when Glockzin was still French's partner in the heating and cooling business.
French was not ticketed. French said that's because Glockzin had taken over all the assets and liabilities of the business — including all of the customers — when their partnership was dissolved.
The lawsuit claims that the conspiracy evolved when Glockzin refused “to unfairly remunerate” French in connection with the dissolution of their partnership, Glockzin French Heating and Cooling. It notes that French was elected township supervisor while they were working to dissolve the company, which had been in business from Aug. 1, 2001, to Dec. 31, 2005.
To see the lawsuit documents, click the Related File PDF below this story.
The suit also notes that the separation was not friendly.
French, who said he was speaking for himself and not for the township, said the split was not as tumultuous as claimed in the lawsuit.
“I don’t believe it was a hostile break-up between us,” French said. “I made him an offer, he accepted and we went our different ways.”
Glockzin and French continue to run separate heating and cooling businesses in the Grand Haven area.
The lawsuit claims that French – before and after taking office as township supervisor – contacted other local government officials in an effort to get them to issue citations against Glockzin in connection with work done in their municipalities.
In the meantime, French was demanding more money from Glockzin, the lawsuit notes.
Glockzin also claims in the suit that French demanded he pay him $2,000 for the business dissolution. Glockzin says French then threatened him in a letter that, if he didn't make the payment, "It will end up costing you far more."
Glockzin claims he refused to make the payment and in February 2009, “French utilized confidential and proprietary information he had from being a shareholder and partner in Glockzin French Heating and Cooling and directed (Grand Haven Township building inspector Barton) Lucas to issue a citation to Glockzin for failing to obtain a final inspection following the installation of a furnace by Glockzin French Heath and Cooling."
That spring, Glockzin started receiving tickets from Lucas, the lawsuit noted.
After extended negotiations, Glockzin and the township eventually reached a settlement.
French said that he turned over the names of the company’s customers to the township at Glockzin’s request. The township then went through the list and issued the citations.
The township eventually filed a lawsuit against Glockzin, which was dismissed on
March 11, 2010, said Ottawa County District Judge Richard Kloote.
“It was a consent to dismiss, based on a settlement agreement between the parties,” Kloote said.
On July 13, Glockzin’s attorney, Ross Reuterdahl, filed a motion to show cause, based on a claim that the township violated the agreement “when they sent out a letter to a customer,” Kloote said.
“I refused to set a hearing on their request,” Kloote said.
The show cause hearing would have required that the township explain why they should not be held in contempt for allegedly violating the agreement.
The judge said the plaintiffs could bring back the issue at a later date.
The current motion set for a hearing on Wednesday is a request by Glockzin to have the Grand Haven law firm Scholten Fant removed as the township attorneys for the case.
Township attorney Brad Springer of Scholten Fant said the agreement says the township can’t contact the company's customers, but it also says “that nothing in the settlement agreement prohibits the township from disclosing any information about violations of the mechanical code that it would have a legal obligation to disclose.”
“We have a situation where the township is required by law to administer and enforce the requirements of the mechanical code, which ultimately has as its core purpose the safety of the people that live in the geographical limits of the township,” Springer said.
French said Glockzin has filed previous lawsuits, which have been dismissed. French said he had not filed any in return.
“If it had been a hostile breakup, there would probably have been lawsuits filed by me as well,” French said.