A lawsuit filed in Michigan Federal District Court on Friday against the City of Ludington is asking for the Copeyon Park siren to be disconnected.
The siren used to be stationed at the former fire department in Ludington, alerting firefighters to an emergency.
It was moved to Copeyon Park in 2019, and reconnected in 2021.
The plaintiff of this case is a veteran, who is suffering from PTSD, and says the siren going off twice a day violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Federal Fair Housing Act (FFHA).
“My client, who is a decorated war veteran, was in a forward combat area often, and the siren that Ludington blows is the same sound that my client faced when he was overseas in the service,” said James Koning, Attorney at Law. “Starting last fall, when the city reconnected the siren, things really started going downhill as far as my client’s PTSD is concerned, as far as his relationship with his wife and relationship with his children.”
Koning is representing a Ludington man, and his wife, in the lawsuit—named John and Mary Doe in the complaint.
“The American with Disabilities Act and the Federal Fair Housing Act basically requires cities not to fail to reasonably accommodate those that are disabled,” said Koning. “Our position is the reasonable thing to do, to shut this off. There is no real reason to have this alarm go other than nostalgia and that they like to hear it.”
Koning said Mary tried to reason with the city, especially with members of the city council.
“My client’s wife went to the city on several occasions and asked if there was something they could do.” said Koning. “The best way to describe it is that she was basically given the finger, was told things like, ‘oh your husband is a VA candidate, so therefore, you get free services to help him adapt to the siren’ or things like ‘you’ll get used to it’.”
He said he’s asked the city to negotiate, but he said the city has had a firm stance in keeping the siren.
“If a city knows that it is causing harm to a disabled individual, and there’s not good reason for it, then that’s a violation of federal law,” Koning said.
The City Manager Mitch Foster said the city just received the lawsuit on Friday, and has yet to review its contents.
“We will be reviewing it as a group including our liability carrier who will also be reviewing this for a liability claim on our insurance,” said Foster. “This is a sensitive issue that matters a great deal to the complainants as well as those other folks, so we want to be as diligent and as careful as possible as we address this.”
Koning said he wants to hold the City of Ludington responsible.
“You can’t run a city just by what people want and ignore the United States Constitution,” he said.