Peninsula Township Offices, Peninsula Township Clerk
Peninsula Township Offices | Jane Boursaw Photo
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Earlier this month, Peninsula Township filed a lawsuit against two former attorneys, Greg Meihn and Matthew Wise, as well as the attorneys’ current and former law firms. The Township claims the attorneys engaged in legal malpractice while representing the Township during the ongoing winery lawsuit.

The winery lawsuit, presided over by U.S. District Court Judge Paul Maloney, stems back to October 2020, when a group of 11 wineries filed suit against the Township. The wineries claimed that the restrictions imposed by the Township’s winery ordinance cost the wineries hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. Read more here.

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In the Complaint filed earlier this month, the Township claims the attorneys missed a September 2021 deadline regarding an expert witness who estimated the wineries damages at $203 million (it was later dropped to $135 million in a supplemental report).

From the Complaint:

“As a result of Defendants’ failure to timely list one or more experts and timely produce expert reports, the Township is now forced to bring a proverbial knife to a gunfight in the ongoing litigation, creating a critical disadvantage for it in responding to the Wineries’ grossly-inflated damages claims, and exposing the Township to far greater liability than it ever would have if Defendants had complied with the standard of care.”

The Township is also claiming that Meihn accepted a settlement agreement without the Township Board’s approval. The Complaint notes that this occurred in September 2021, when Meihn told the mediator and winery attorneys that the parties had reached a deal — after then-Supervisor Rob Manigold and current Township Clerk Becky Chown had already left the mediation meeting.

In a public meeting at St. Joseph Catholic Church in October 2021, the Township Board rejected the wineries’ demands (not the settlement, as there was no settlement agreement), spurring the wineries to request a sanction on the Township. Judge Maloney granted the sanction and awarded the wineries $17,142.48.

The Township was sanctioned again for $12,993.20 when a dispute over an insurance policy that Meihn and Wise failed to produce and potential conflicts of interest arose between attorneys on both sides. Meihn resigned as township attorney in June 2022.

Upcoming events in the winery lawsuit include mediation in March for a possible pre-trial settlement. The trial is set for the end of April.

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A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper.

Because Old Mission Gazette is a "Reader Supported Newspaper" -- meaning it exists because of your financial support -- I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks our way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the OMP. In a time when local news is becoming a thing of the past, supporting an independent community newspaper is more important now than ever.

To keep the Gazette going, click here to make a donation. Thank you so much for your support. -jb

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