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Skinning copycats

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At the risk of biting the hands that often feed us documents, we must confess feeling an ecstatic shiver upon learning last week that some brave souls are suing Wayne County over the exorbitant fees it charges to provide copies of court records.

Although it has been on file since midyear, the rest of the media has yet to catch wind of the fact that attorney Harvey Chayet has launched a class action lawsuit alleging that the $2.25 per page Wayne County courts collect to copy legal records is “grossly in excess” of the price other counties bill and is a violation of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act.

“It’s outrageous what they charge,” says Chayet.

Oakland County, by contrast, extracts only $1 per page; Macomb County charges a mere 40 cents.

Chayet filed the lawsuit on behalf his cousin, Michael Chayet, who was miffed at having to shell out $9 for four photocopies. For people involved in lawsuits, those kinds of costs can add up to big numbers quickly, which is why the law firms of Marc A. Fishman and Shedd, Frasier & Grossman also joined the suit. And, lest you think this is a case of attorneys looking out for each other, we suggest you keep in mind that it is ultimately the clients who foot these bills.

Wayne County Corporation Counsel Ed Ewell declined to answer questions from News Hits regarding the case.

“We have a policy of not commenting on ongoing litigation,” says Ewell.

The lawsuit is seeking to reimburse each plaintiff $1.25 per page for all copies purchased from Wayne County within the past six years. Chayet also wants the county to reduce its fee from $2.25 per page to $1.25 per page.

If the case is certified as a class action, a decision in the hands of Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Warfield Moore, the class members will include anyone who paid Wayne County for photocopies the past six years, says Chayet. A certification hearing date has not been scheduled.

If you want to join the suit, call Chayet at 248-368-6700.

Eschewing any feigned attempts at objectivity, News Hits openly cheers Chayet. We’d applaud as well, but at the moment our hands are busy digging through the recycling bin, looking for receipts from all those photocopy charges we’ve piled up.

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