Michigan justices give class-action status to homeowners

By Chris Rizo | May 6, 2008

LANSING, Mich. (Legal Newsline)-The Michigan Supreme Court has ruled that a lawsuit filed by homeowners who say their property was damaged by roots from city-mandated trees may move forward as a class action suit.

The lawsuit-which began when 23 residents of Warren, Mich., filed a lawsuit against the city in 2000- has grown to include about 7,000 residents of the Detroit suburb.

The residents are seeking compensation for damage silver maple tree roots have done to their sewer lines and sidewalks, among other things.

For its part, the city has offered to pay half the cost of removing trees and repairing sidewalk damage done by the tree roots.

Initially, the case was denied class-action status by Macomb County Circuit Judge James Biernat.

In 2003, the state Court of Appeals overturned the ruling.

The appeals court said allowing for a class-action "would promote the convenient administration of justice."

The state Supreme Court agreed on Monday, sending the case back to Biernat.

Gerard Mantese, the attorney for the homeowners, in a statement praised the court's decision.

"I am pleased that the appellate battle is now behind us and we can proceed to obtain fair and just compensation for these homeowners, many of whom are on fixed incomes and cannot afford the necessary repairs to their sewer lines and property damage caused by the city," Mantese said.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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