Mirbeau files lawsuit against city of Lake Geneva

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Kayla Bunge
Saturday, August 2, 2008
— Mirbeau of Geneva Lake, which is half of the former group that proposed Mirbeau-Hummel development, has filed a lawsuit against the city seeking more than $29 million in damages.

The lawsuit filed July 25 in Walworth County Court alleges the city “acted maliciously toward Mirbeau” and deprived Mirbeau of its rights by asking voters whether the city should approve the rezone request and general development plan.

The Mirbeau portion of the former proposed 710-acre development on the city’s south side included the Mirbeau Retreat, a 100-room boutique inn with 12 villas, a spa, banquet and conference facilities and 57 single-family cottages.

City Attorney Dan Draper said the papers, served to the city July 25 and to most aldermen July 26, have been sent to the city’s insurance company for review. The city has 20 days to file a response.

“I don’t believe we did anything wrong,” Draper said. “My guess is (the city) will vigorously deny the allegations.”

Mirbeau is seeking:

-- $1 million for the deprivation of its rights as a result of the city council’s “unlawful conduct” in putting the proposed development to referendum and treating its results as binding.

-- $27 million for the loss of business profits.

-- $1.025 million for out-of-pocket expenses.

Lisle Blackbourn, the attorney representing Mirbeau, said the damages sought reflect the time and effort the company put into the zoning application process “after the continuous encouragement of city officials … to keep going with this.”

He said the entire process was “unfair.”

According to the lawsuit:

“Through closed-door meetings and back hall conversations, (the city) undermined the process of fair, factual and objective decision making … instead forging illicit, behind-the-scenes agreements with political action committees and affluent property owners … to prevent the orderly and permissible development of the property.”

Blackbourn said the city council’s actions were not an “appropriate or legally valid exercise of the power of city government.”

Last updated: 10:04 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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