Sharp v Hillery, et al.
Michigan Court of Appeals Case No. 347893
One Detroiter’s tumultuous ordeal with the troubled organization
As the city of Detroit’s top landlord and quasi-governmental organization tasked with selling publicly owned land, the Detroit Land Bank Authority has a tremendous duty to uphold its dealings and due diligence with the citizens of Detroit. This is a task any responsible government agency would manage with requisite care.
Yet in reality, the Detroit Land Bank is one of the most complained about organizations in the entire city. Grievances against the Land Bank are ever present during the mandatory community meetings held by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, and in the past, city ombudsman Bruce Simpson contended that the Land Bank is the number one organization that residents file complaints against.
For one Detroiter, the Land Bank has not only been a source of complaint, but a legal nightmare ever since 2015.
In January 2015, Detroiter Stacy Hillery purchased a side lot from the Land bank during a public side lot fair, one of the first ever held by the organization. Her application was thoroughly vetted and confirmed for eligibility, and ultimately signed and authorized in a purchase agreement by the top Land Bank official at the time, Kevin Simowski.
Mrs. Hillery paid the purchase price for the lot immediately, and the Land Bank was obligated under the contract to deliver the deed to the property, which it eventually did in June 2017. Yet in between the signing of the agreement and the delivery of the deed, the Land Bank’s side lot policy changed, which would have deemed Mrs. Hillery ineligible to purchase the property. A neighbor who also eyed the lot jumped on this rule change and filed a lawsuit in 2017 against Mrs. Hillery and the Detroit Land Bank Authority, alleging that since she lived adjacent to the lot, she was the only party entitled to purchase it under the new rules.
Rather than defend its obligation and actions under the agreement with Mrs. Hillery, the Land Bank instead sided with the neighbor, and also filed a lawsuit in 2018 against Mrs. Hillery, alleging that she misrepresented herself in their deal.
Because Mrs. Hillery made the decision to use her funds to cover funeral and burial costs for her brother rather than hire an attorney, she initially chose to represent herself against the Land Bank. Unfortunately, in May 2018, the trial court judge sided with the neighbor, and she lost the property to the neighbor in Wayne County Circuit Court.
Shortly after this decision, Mrs. Hillery met and retained Attorney Tina M. Patterson, who revived the legal fight and brought her case before the Michigan Court of Appeals, the second highest court in the state.
On Friday, February 7, 2020, the case was heard before the Court of Appeals, with Mrs. Hillery in the audience, as well as a packed courtroom of concerned Detroiters who are critical of the Detroit Land Bank.
TMP Law lead by Attorney Tina M. Patterson took on this case two years ago due to our philosophy that holding government accountable is the civic duty of every citizen, a principle that holds double meaning for attorneys as officers of the court. This is also in line with our company mission that the court system is a public institution, belonging to everyone, and is meant to distribute justice and preserve the interests and well-being of the people at its core.
TMP Law will continually follow this case and provide updates as they occur. Follow Legal Briefs for the latest news and updates on this case as well.
Finally, if you have a similar case involving the Detroit Land Bank or other government organization, Make an appointment with TMP Law and Attorney Tina M. Patterson for your consultation today. Don’t rush into decisions without the full and appropriate legal advice and backing.
Tina M. Patterson is the Principal Attorney of TMP Law, PLLC. She is an attorney licensed in the State of Michigan and Federal Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
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