Eleven days ago, the Ludington City Council came out of a closed session and voted to have the city attorney negotiate the siren controversy with the attorney of Nathaniel Rose, a veteran allegedly suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Those seem to have failed. The siren located at Copeyon Park, effectively across the street from where Rose lives, reportedly triggers his condition. TV 9 & 10 broke the story this afternoon, which follows:
A lawsuit filed in Michigan Federal District Court on Friday against the City of Ludington is asking for the Copeyon Park siren to be disconnected.
The siren used to be stationed at the former fire department in Ludington, alerting firefighters to an emergency.
It was moved to Copeyon Park in 2019,and reconnected in 2021.
The plaintiff of this case is a veteran, who is suffering from PTSD, and says the siren going off twice a day violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Federal Fair Housing Act (FFHA).
“My client, who is a decorated war veteran, was in a forward combat area often, and the siren that Ludington blows is the same sound that my client faced when he was overseas in the service,” said James Koning, Attorney at Law. “Starting last fall, when the city reconnected the siren, things really started going downhill as far as my client’s PTSD is concerned, as far as his relationship with his wife and relationship with his children.”
Koning is representing a Ludington man, and his wife, in the lawsuit—named John and Mary Doe in the complaint.
“The American with Disabilities Act and the Federal Fair Housing Act basically requires cities not to fail to reasonably accommodate those that are disabled,” said Koning. “Our position is the reasonable thing to do, to shut this off. There is no real reason to have this alarm go other than nostalgia and that they like to hear it.”
Koning said Mary tried to reason with the city, especially with members of the city council.
“My client’s wife went to the city on several occasions and asked if there was something they could do.” said Koning. “The best way to describe it is that she was basically given the finger, was told things like, ‘oh your husband is a VA candidate, so therefore, you get free services to help him adapt to the siren’ or things like ‘you’ll get used to it’.”
He said he’s asked the city to negotiate, but he said the city has had a firm stance in keeping the siren.
“If a city knows that it is causing harm to a disabled individual, and there’s not good reason for it, then that’s a violation of federal law,” Koning said.
The City Manager Mitch Foster said the city just received the lawsuit on Friday, and has yet to review its contents.
“We will be reviewing it as a group including our liability carrier who will also be reviewing this for a liability claim on our insurance,” said Foster. “This is a sensitive issue that matters a great deal to the complainants as well as those other folks, so we want to be as diligent and as careful as possible as we address this.”
Koning said he wants to hold the City of Ludington responsible.
“You can’t run a city just by what people want and ignore the United States Constitution,” he said.
The City of Ludington may have future legal issues regarding the two closed sessions they held and their reluctance to offer a timely response to a FOIA request asking for records associated with the siren controversy. The justification they offered to go into closed session both times involved the invocation of client-attorney privilege with the city attorney, yet nobody with that authority has ever claimed the privilege, which isn't automatic. Had they decided to conduct the business of deliberating what to do with the siren in an open meeting, perhaps they could have avoided the problem(s) they find themselves currently in.
UPDATE 3-26-22, 1:15 PM: We have a link to the lawsuit right here feel free to comment with your impressions of it in the forum below.
Well y'all bring up good points. And LL, interesting about a potential move. What major problem I found living on S. Washington and the potential for business re-development there (and I contemplated buying the beautiful historical building the Rose's did) is PARKING. I spoke to former Councilor Krauch about this and the need for traffic control in the area and he displayed abysmal ignorance and apathy in saying something to the effect "that nothing needs to be done." I can see why the Rose's may have a hard time garnering a brisk business with the traffic and parking situation and may wish to move. Our Planning Dept. has regressed and are turning a blind eye to parking needs and standards, imo for good business development.
Why did 4th Ward business fail in the first place? How much did availability and ease of parking contribute?
As far as the Rose's returning to downtown, with lawsuit money, I find that hard to believe. If after suing a city with a lot of backlash, I would think they would get out of Dodge on the first stagecoach.
Let me say that first off I have never been in the military service. I find that some comments out of touch on what some of our veterans have gone through during their service to our country. Lake Lady is annoyed by pickle ball , were you ever in combat where those pops were gun fire aimed at you?????? Some of our veterans freak out with different sounds , like someone shutting a door , hammering , nail guns , some trash blowing across the road while they're driving. If you haven't been to a war zone even if you are a veteran don't go judging other people for what you think is a trivial matter. PTSD is real and it affects peoples lives. At least we have the The American with Disabilities Act to support our Veterans. My thoughts on the siren is it never should have been put in a populated area. On the Light House would have made more sense , Do they ever blow the Fog Horn anymore ?
As a matter of fact, my husband is a vet, with PTSD. All of those noises make him jumpy at times. He has learned to live with it as have we as a family. We have not ever filed a law suit as a result. If you read the case carefully you will see it noted the Vet in question is blaming the city for his panic attacks, failing marriage and weakening relationship with his children. It seems to me that the issue is greater than an alarm blast twice a day. By the way, my Son is active military on deployment as well. So , yes, I do understand what Vets go through. Mr. Rose needs to get the help he needs . Lawyering up is probably not the best first step.