Case Results for Appellate Advocacy

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.
881 F3d 432 (6th Cir 2018). A religious radio station with a contract to rent antennas on a city-owned communications tower wanted to add antennas and increase its broadcast power. The FCC had approved the increase in broadcast power and the broadcaster asserted that that federal decision meant the city had to approve its request. The trial court dismissed all of plaintiff’s claims, finding that the city’s denial was a proper assertion of its property rights as the tower owner and not a violation of the plaintiff’s constitutional rights. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s dismissal.
717 Fed. Appx. 555 (6th Cir 2017): Sheriff’s deputies used a confidential informant to conduct drug buys and identify the participants, one of whom was bound over for trial at a preliminary exam. The charges were subsequently dismissed based on contradictory testimony from another participant and the fact that the plaintiff passed a polygraph test. He then sued Huron County and several deputies, claiming that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated in the drug buys. The trial court granted summary judgement to dismiss the case against the county and deputies, because the bind-over conclusively established that there was probable cause to arrest plaintiff on the charges. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s dismissal of all claims against Defendants.
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.
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.
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.
452 Mich 568 (1996). Plaintiff owned vacant property in the city of Novi that was zoned for large-lot, single-family residential use. The planning commission recommended against their request to rezone the property to a mobile home district. The plaintiff did not seek a use variance from the ZBA, but immediately sued the city claiming that the denial was an unconstitutional taking of property. The case was appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court which ruled that plaintiff’s claims were not ripe because plaintiff had not obtained a final decision from the city on the use of the land due to the failure to seek a use variance before filing suit. The case was significant as, for the first time, the Michigan Supreme Court adopted the ripeness doctrine established by the federal courts. RSJA filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the Michigan Municipal League in this case.
486 Mich 514; 786 NW2d 543 (2010). The plaintiff sought to rezone property to mine sand and gravel. The case involved the important issue of whether the “no very serious consequences” rule established in prior mining cases had any continued viability after the Michigan Supreme Court decisions invalidating the concept of preferred uses and confirming the presumption of validity to municipal regulations. RSJA filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the township’s application for leave to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court, and on the accepted case in the Michigan Supreme Court. The court issued a favorable ruling to municipalities on July 15, 2010, invalidated the “no very serious consequences” rule, and found that the rule had also been superseded by the exclusionary zoning statute. Unfortunately, the state legislature amended the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act after the decision to codify the “no very serious consequences” rule.
486 Mich 556; 786 NW2d 521 (2010). The owner of agricultural land in Putnam Township failed in his attempts to rezone the land residential, establish a planned unit development or obtain a use variance. He then sued the township, trying to rezone the property for a manufactured housing community, raising constitutional and exclusionary zoning claims. The fact that the owner requested rezoning for one use but sued for an entirely different use without first going through the zoning application process made the lawsuit unripe for court because plaintiff had not obtained a final decision -or any decision for that matter – regarding a potential manufactured housing community RSJA lent its expertise by filing an amicus curiae brief in the Michigan Court of Appeals, and later supporting the township’s application for leave to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court. That supreme court agreed that the case was not ripe, supporting the application of the ripeness doctrine to exclusionary zoning claims, a decision with meaningful protection for Michigan municipalities.
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.