TRAVERSE CITY -- The rancorous lawsuit between former Acme Treasurer Bill Boltres and developers the Village at Grand Traverse LLC will continue after the sides failed to reach a settlement.
Lawyers for the Village, Meijer Inc., and Boltres met with 13th Circuit Court Judge Philip Rodgers behind closed doors for more than an hour Tuesday, but exited the judge's chambers with little more than stern, unhappy expressions.
"The sides are barely even talking to each other," Rodgers said, "so we'll go forward."
Next up is a hearing set for Oct. 5 at 1:30 p.m. for a secret motion filed by Meijer. The motion seeks an injunction to stop some or possibly the entire lawsuit filed by Boltres against the Village that alleges the would-be developers harmed his health through malicious prosecution.
Rodgers wouldn't discuss the nature of Meijer's injunction request, but said next week's hearing would be "very important," and will be argued in open court.
Meijer and The Village sued Boltres and other Acme officials personally in 2005 amid a zoning battle over a proposed mega-mall along M-72 to be anchored by Meijer. Boltres then sued Meijer in 2007, and alleged malicious prosecution.
His uncovered Meijer's violation of state campaign finance laws when it tried to secretly manipulate a township election in 2005, and again in a 2007 recall attempt against Boltres and the rest of the township board.
Meijer reached a confidential agreement with Boltres in December 2007 to settle the suit for an undisclosed sum. The settlement contained provisions that called for a significant financial penalty if Boltres talked about the agreement.
Meijer recently restarted the zoning process to build a store in Acme with the Village, and is not a defendant in the current lawsuit. But the retailer intervened in the suit to protect the confidentiality agreement.
Since entering the case, most of Meijer's motions have been sealed from public view.
"I really object to Meijer corporation coming into a suit where apparently there's evidence the Village broke the law and Meijer is trying to keep everything secret," said Grant Parsons, Boltres' attorney. "It seems totally antithetical to our basic system of justice, and frankly I'm getting mad as hell."
The Village denied it was involved in illegal election activity, though it paid related legal bills in 2005, and one of its partners acted as a liaison between Meijer operatives and local residents that later were exposed as front groups for Meijer, court and state records show.
Rodgers has yet to decide if evidence and arguments put forth during an August court hearing indicate the Village's actions likely violated state campaign finance laws.