Case Studies for Marcelyn A. Stepanski

647 F3d 606 (6th Cir 2011). When Northridge Church wanted to relocate its expanding membership in a rural part of the Charter Township of Plymouth, it entered into a 1995 consent agreement with the township to limit its seating, services, parking, traffic patterns and outdoor activities to address negative impacts on the surrounding residents. By 2008, weekly attendance had grown from 1,100 to 14,000. The church wanted to void the consent agreement, using multiple arguments including the assertion that the agreement violated the Religious Land Use and Institutional Persons Act (RLUIPA) (which was not established until 2000). RSJA successfully defended the township through the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the consent judgment.
2016 WL 1533562 (Mich App 2016 unpublished). Plaintiff operated a bar, restaurant, banquet center, and nightclub out of a structure that it had illegally expanded over a period of 20 years. Fire and construction code inspections led to an occupancy reduction from 2000 to 175 and multiple violation notices by the township and a lawsuit by the owner. The township won in circuit court, but the court denied the township’s request for sanctions based on a frivolous filing. Both sides appealed and the court confirmed the finding of a dangerous building. RSJA also appealed the denial of its request for sanctions and was eventually awarded $103,000 for the township in sanctions in addition to almost $30,000 in costs.
791 F3d 638 (6th Cir. 2015): We have successfully handled many cases in which an arrestee claims excessive force by police. In this case, police used one Taser shot and a knee strike to subdue a defendant who tried to prevent the officer from handcuffing him, swung his arms in the officer’s direction, balled up and refused to comply with verbal commands. The United States Court of Appeals reversed a denial of qualified immunity and summary judgment against the officer.
655 Fed Appx 383 (6th Cir. 2016): In general, police cannot allow civilians to participate in the execution of a warrant but, in this case, the Sixth Circuit agreed that law enforcement officers acted properly when they let a health insurer’s employees accompany them in raids of the home and office of a physician who was suspected of defrauding the insurer. The civilians were present only to help execute the search warrant and not to access the premises.
676 Fed Appx 466 (6th Cir, 2017). The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the district court’s denial of qualified immunity and held that the defendant paramedic did not violate the plaintiff’s clearly-established Fourth Amendment rights by grabbing the plaintiff, who was being aggressive, and forcing her to the floor and, thus, was entitled to qualified immunity in her federal use of force action. The paramedic acted reasonably by intervening because reasonable an officer in her position would have found intervention necessary, various factors could have led paramedic to believe that her use of force was necessary, citizen was second-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and knew how to fight, citizen acted aggressively in front of paramedic by yelling obscenities, throwing her phone, and walking angrily toward another paramedic, and police officer told citizen immediately before paramedic intervened that citizen needed to stop fighting him.
900 F3d 250 (6th Cir. 2018) (argued): When a county mental health agency reduced its budget for Medicaid-funded community living support services, an advocacy group sought preliminary injunctive relief, asking that the agency fresh notice of and hearings about the reductions. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the group lacked associational standing; that they did not suffer any actual or imminent injury from any loss of due process that would find redress through fresh notices and hearing rights.