Towing Company Sues 5 Shelby Township Board Members

Nick and John Nightingale, owners of Nightingale Services, are suing Shelby Township and five board members, alleging their contract was canceled in retaliation for speaking out against the board.

The owner and operators of Nightingale Services Inc., Shelby Township’s former towing contractor, have filed a federal lawsuit against the township, and five Board of Trustees individually, claiming their contract was cancelled as punishment for the business owners spearheading recall efforts against several township officials.

After more than 50 years of working with the township, a 5-2 vote by the Board of Trustees in December 2011 terminated the Nightingale's contract based on allegations of contract violations and overcharges.  , conducted by an independent contractor hired by the township, was presented during a public meeting, and a vote was immediately taken.

Several months later, . Also, the family hired Bloomfield Attorney Deborah Gordon and filed a lawsuit against all five board members who voted in favor of cancelling the contract and the board as a whole.

The lawsuit, which was delivered to the township and the individual plaintiffs earlier this week, demands a trial by jury based on three counts.

Freedom of Speech

The lawsuit states the Nightingale’s First Amendment Rights of Freedom of Speech were violated because they were targeted after participating in “political discourse, which is protected by the First Amendment."

“This is a freedom of speech lawsuit,” said Gordon. “The government cannot retaliate or harm you for exercising your rights of freedom of speech and speak out on public concern.”

In 2011, the Nightingales actively participated in recall efforts against Shelby Township Supervisor Rick Stathakis and Treasurer Paul Viar because of a controversial vote to rezone a parcel at 24 Mile and Schoenherr roads. The due to a lack of valid signatures.

The lawsuit states that Viar told John Nightingale during a 2011 encounter, “You don’t go after the king and only wound him, you make sure to kill him. Otherwise the King comes back to kill you.”

Due Process

The second charge claims the Nightingale's Fourteenth Amendment was violated when they were not given due process and denied the right to defend the allegations of contract violations in a hearing before the contract was terminated. Also, the lawsuit claims the Board of Trustees refused to participate in a post termination hearing with the Nightingales.

Breach of Contract

The third count against the Township is an alleged breach of contract. The Nightingale contract was expected to expire in 2013.  The lawsuit states “plaintiffs have suffered damages as a result of defendant’s breach of employee contract.”

The Nightngales are seeking compensatory and punitive damages, as well as legal fees and a court order preventing further retaliation.

Shelby Township Attorney Rob Huth said he will not be defending the plaintiffs.

“The complaint has allegations that trigger insurance coverage, so therefore the township’s insurance company will hire an attorney,” said Huth.

The township, and each individual plaintiff has between 21 and 28 days to respond to the lawsuit, according to Huth.  Stathakis said the township has not yet settled on an attorney.

Matt Guarnieri June 28, 2012 at 02:47 PM
Federal Court is better, Nightingale's would sell their souls to win including voting to build a new District Court building with taxpayers funds. Bankrupting Shelby means nothing to Nightingale's as long as they get a no bid towing contract.
Matt Guarnieri June 28, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Mr. Berz or Mr. Lang, can you FOIA some of the NIghtingale's handed in invoices from a year ago (ask for some with "misc." and "wrapping") and tell me if these are totally legal and within the signed dated contract parameters? If not and they denied in a public meeting "doing anything wrong" "It's how we've done business forever". If a court sees the bills, sees the meeting video, do you really think Nightingale's have a shot? It was only months later and after the contract was moved that John Nightingale said "I don't think we did anything wrong, but you never gave me a chance at restitution". John Nightingale was not interested in restitution until he realized he lost the contract.... A jury will find against them, thankfully every meeting is video taped and stored so King John, the singing Nightingale can't change his tune in court and play innocent.
Matt Guarnieri June 28, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Cindy, there will be an independent candidate on the November ballot running against whoever wins in August, he is a much stronger candidate that Leman but not a Republican and has not come out against raising taxes for local homeowners. I huge point for me.... control spending and still provide services, no buddy/buddy system like has been in place for decades, all contracts get fairly put out for bid.
Matt Guarnieri June 28, 2012 at 03:06 PM
See, the Nightingale's and Mr. Berz don't care about the people of Shelby Township at all, it's all about the money, they are nice and sweet as long as you keep the money flowing their way, they bully anyone who is not listed as their "friend". This behavior should tell you a lot about their true nature.
John Lang June 28, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Your time is up. Thanks for coming down.
Jeffery Berz June 28, 2012 at 08:19 PM
Regarding the comment directed to myself and John Lang I’m not going to FOIA all of that information for you. I’m not the judge or the jury. If you have something to prove in writing then put it in a pdf so everyone can read it. By the way where is that proof that the State Police wanted to see your website? I’ll bet the dog ate it RIGHT?
Jeffery Berz June 28, 2012 at 08:24 PM
The Federal Court will be a great court to have this case presented in. I’m glad I’m retired so I can go watch the case every day. It’s going to be(as Ed Sullivan used to say) “A Reeeally Grrrrrrrrreat Shhhhow!"
Jeffery Berz June 28, 2012 at 08:31 PM
How do you know what the Nightingales or I care about? Have you ever met me? If I didn’t care about Shelby I wouldn’t be on here all of the time correcting your babble.
Matt Guarnieri June 28, 2012 at 10:23 PM
I just want to know ... If you sign a contract and itemize everything you will be billing for is it legal to arbitrarily add "misc." charges or "collision wrapping" charges on bills when no one has ever seen a "collision wrap" and "Misc." was not an allowed item to be charged for in the contract that was signed? This is what Mr. Nightingales yelled was "none of your business" about at a meeting. Shouldn't un-allowed, unexplained charges be a good enough reason to stop using them especially when their response is "none of your business" and to attack the process, never once explaining the charges,,, they would only speak of oil dry charges but what about the other charges? This won't go to court, the judge will laugh them out of there.... so after losing the election they will get a double whammy of court rejection... and a citizen boycott... kind of sad.
Jeffery Berz June 29, 2012 at 11:59 AM
And still the same old droning monologue continues like a broken record. Come up with some facts other than "I feel that......." or "my opinion is....." Everyone has an opinion but it doesn't mean that it's right(except in Matt G's mind)
Michelle Johnston Battice June 29, 2012 at 12:52 PM
I did give facts and nobody has responded to them, instead they researched my name and those same people just keep throwing out childish insults.
Jeffery Berz July 02, 2012 at 08:35 PM
I can’t wait to see the Nightingales get a huge settlement in punitive damages from the 5 board members who are being sued.
Cindy July 03, 2012 at 02:39 PM
You mean from the citizens of Shelby Twp!! What's the matter with you people.
Jeffery Berz July 03, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Did I say the citizens of Shelby? NO! I mean personally. The board will have to decide who pays for the legal fees. Who do you think they will chose? Them personally or the people of Shelby? I can guess already.
John Lang July 03, 2012 at 07:16 PM
That's where it's going to get interesting. I would really like to know more about how this works. What I think happens is that the insurance company for the Township will be called in to litigate this matter on behalf of those named in the suit, which is not only the five individuals, but the Township itself. The Township Attorney stated as much in the body of this article. Consider this scenario: by the time this matter is either settled out of court through arbitration or if it actually makes it into Federal court, any number of these people might have been voted out. Well, hopefully all of them, but that's a topic for another thread. In the event that they are no longer on the Board, is the insurance company still responsible for some, all, none of the punitive damages if they are found liable? Or is each individual responsible for some, all, or none of said damages? Very interesting as to how this will unfold over time.
Dennis July 03, 2012 at 08:50 PM
Do you have to live in Shelby to run for the board?
Jeffery Berz July 03, 2012 at 09:44 PM
I’m not a betting man but I can surely see this "conservative board" voting to cover their derrieres with township funds. Forget all of that junk they said about fiscal responsibility and keeping a balanced budget for the people of Shelby. The kingdom is falling! The ship is on fire and the rats will soon be jumping ship! They should have thought about this before they drew on the Nightingales in an illegal manner. Now it’s time to pay the piper! You reap what you sew. Thanks for coming down!
Jeffery Berz July 03, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Yes but you don’t have to have your personal business in Shelby and you don’t need to support your local businesses.
Matt Guarnieri July 03, 2012 at 11:35 PM
I am willing to bet the Nightingale's will lose. If we just got the money the Nightingale's overcharged citizens for the 50 plus years they did the towing we could pay cash for a new rec center and court house. Sadly, the Nightingale's would rather spend this money suing the citizens of Shelby Township instead of helping us out. How greedy can one family possibly be.....
Jeffery Berz July 04, 2012 at 01:25 AM
There it is!
Thomas Delise July 04, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Matt,how could this be going on for 50 years as you claim and no one has come foward claiming that they were overcharged? Also what does towing charges have to do with a rec center?Now you are trying to make it sound like they have been stealing tax monies.You really should quit giving out false information.
Thomas Delise July 04, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Remember the only complaint was the letter from Mr.Turner.As I recall the letter never said that he was personnally over charged.So taht is a BIG FAT ZERO !!!
Matt Guarnieri July 04, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Mr. Delise. At a Shelby Township televised and recorded meeting Mr. John Nightingale said "I have been doing business the same way for over 50 years with Shelby Township" (paraphrased). This means he has been charging the same way for over 50 years and if you take into consideration that he added "misc." charges on towing bills for over 50 years he has been over billing people for over 50 years..... duh!
Matt Guarnieri July 04, 2012 at 10:34 PM
When Mr. John Nightingale phoned me as "Shelby Citizen" I asked him if he had a set rate for charges and why a motorcyclist was billed 165.00 (dollars) for a tow that would have cost 65.00 (dollars) in Sterling Heights and 45.00 (dollars) in Troy, MI.... his response on the phone, to me was: "I can bill whatever I want for a tow, it's none of your business anyway". He also told me to "be quiet". So, I ask you Mr. Delise, if you knew someone was investigating what you billed for your services compared to other municipalities and you behaved as badly as the Nightingale's at meetings, then, you signed a legal agreement and violated almost every aspect of that agreement would you expect to keep the work? The process of the complaint is mute.... I emailed and phoned in concerns long before Mr. Turner. Mr. Turners question just happened to come after the contract was signed, my questions were before. How can you run a business that deal with the public without a price list posted as required by law, how can you run an auction for the township without knowing the laws or following the laws? I don't care if a Nightingale was elected to every position on the board, I would still call the state police to investigate every invoice they have affecting the public and done under contract. The election is nothing, if Nightingale's tried to pull the stuff they did while being an elected official they WILL end up in jail. They are crooks and they know it.
John Lang July 04, 2012 at 11:42 PM
You didn't really answer the question, did you? Let's rephrase it, shall we? Very simple actually: If the vendor was overcharging the Township for 50 years (or whatever length of time you want to randomly pick) why was no complaint ever made against them prior to the abrupt termination of the contract? An even better question would be, why was the contract renewed in 2010, then breached at the end of 2011? This question is the basis of the lawsuit against the township. It will be interesting to see how the insurance company attorneys answer it. You can bet that the township attorney is glad he's off the hook to answer it. I wouldn't know where to start.
Thomas Delise July 05, 2012 at 03:32 AM
Just as I figured.It's the same old scene with you taking something and twisting it. You're NOT going to convince me twisted ways....duh!
Matt Guarnieri July 05, 2012 at 04:58 PM
@ Mr. Lang: Why did the Nightingale's get away with conning people for over 50 years? Simple, a con man will continue to con his targets until he is caught and his targets are warned to look out for him. The confidence man (con man), not knowing any other way to make a living then moves on with a new con, in this case, politics. I believe Nightingale’s behavior fits into the category of “con man”. Study “Irish Travelers” and you will see the exact same actions fit this pattern. The attacking of the process, never answering the charges, now playing the victim. The whole family mobbing together to intimidate opposition. The question still remains. Where in the signed contract are “misc.” and “wrapping” charges allowed? Where was the price list posted in the store? Where are the lot improvements John Nightingale promised, “giving his word”, would be done in 12 months (nothing 18 months later). All actions a confidence man would take. We are dealing with people who are raised to be con men like “Irish Travelers”. They have no legal leg to stand on in court, once put to any jury with comparisons to other Irish Traveler” family actions they will be exposed for what they are.
Jeffery Berz July 05, 2012 at 10:23 PM
There it is!
John Lang July 06, 2012 at 01:59 PM
This takes things so far off into the weeds that I don't even know where to begin to continue a lucid discussion.
Jeffery Berz July 08, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Does this have anything to do with Trustee Michael Flynn? He's kind of like an Irish traveler moving from one bar to another.


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