Town may lose insurance over lawsuits involving police chief - WNEM TV 5

Town may lose insurance over lawsuits involving police chief

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OAKLEY, MI (WNEM) -

A Mid-Michigan township may lose their insurance after a number of lawsuits were filed against them. The lawsuits stem from allegations against Police Chief Rob Reznick.

Reznick is not only denying the claims, but counter-suing for defamation.

Oakley is a small town in Saginaw County with one stoplight on Highway 52. The tiny community has a big problem - their insurance is set to run out because of numerous lawsuits.

It all started in 2011 because of a feud between Shannon Bitterman, co-owner of the Family Tavern, and the police chief.

"Our waitress came to my husband at the Family Tavern and said that she was being harassed by a customer while she was working. She said it was Chief Reznick," said Bitterman.

Bitterman alleges that Reznick continued to harass the employee. In fact, she claims Reznick retaliated, saying her business was targeted by police who gave her customers a hard time. That led to a sharp drop in revenue.

She tells TV5 she turned to the council for help. But she says town leaders supported their police chief after a community police board found no evidence of wrong doing.

Now, the Bitterman family is involved in five lawsuits against the village. As a result, the Michigan Municipal League, the town's insurance provider, is pulling their coverage effective July 1, saying the lawsuits played a huge role in their decision. Meanwhile, Chief Reznick says Bitterman's case doesn't add up.

"I categorically deny the allegations. We will be vindicated in court as we've been vindicated in the police board hearings and the investigation conducted by the police board," says Reznick.

The village president, Doug Shindorf, said he can't talk about the lawsuit because it is in litigation.

Shindorf said he's been ordered by attorneys to stay silent on the issue. However, he did tell TV5 that he expects to win the lawsuits.

Meanwhile, Bitterman said she feels terrible that her town might lose insurance because of the lawsuits, but she has to do what's necessary.

The village trustees issued a statement Tuesday, saying the village will get another insurance carrier to provide for them after July 1.

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