Case Results for General Municipal Law

Unpublished decision per curiam of the Court of Appeals, issued November 4, 2014 (Docket No. 315403), leave denied, 498 Mich. 865 (2015); Vermilya v Delta College Board of Trustees, unpublished decision per curiam of the Court of Appeals, June 15, 2017 (Docket No. 331958). Summary disposition on all but one of several claims of violations of the Michigan Open Meetings Act. The remaining claim was tried to a verdict in favor of the board and its compensation committee. The Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the summary disposition twice and awarded 150% of trial costs to board members. The Michigan Supreme Court declined to consider the case.
2014 WL 6632163 (E.D. Mich. 2014). Plaintiff sued a neighboring owner of a landscaping company for creating a nuisance. She also sued the city to enforce its zoning ordinance and a consent judgment with the company regarding permitted uses on the property.
795 F.3d 553 (6th Cir. 2015). A Howell man who refused to mow the grass in the greenbelt between the sidewalk and curb adjacent to his house challenged on constitutional grounds a property maintenance ordinance that authorized the city to charge him the cost of enforcing the ordinance and hiring a vendor to mow the grass. At the motion stage, the federal district judge ruled that the plaintiff had a right not to be forced to maintain municipal property and granted summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court in a published decision, holding that the city’s ordinance did not violate the Constitution.
2016 WL 1533562 (Mich App 2016 unpublished).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.
Unpublished decision per curiam of the Court of Appeals, issued November 22, 2016 (Docket No. 327838), leave denied, 500 Mich 1060 (2017). The plaintiff obtained a dismissal of a municipal civil infraction notice for violating a city grading ordinance then turned around the sued the city, its ordinance officer and building inspector for malicious prosecution and abuse of process. The circuit court granted the motion for summary disposition in lieu of answering the complaint, the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed and the Michigan Supreme Court declined to hear the case.
Hillsdale County Circuit Court Case No. 18-863-AW (March 2019). Plaintiff was an unsuccessful candidate in a city council election who sought leave to file a post-election petition for writ of quo warranto to declare him the winner of the election. He contended that the County Board of Elections and County Clerk should have disqualified his opponent from appearing on the general election ballot because his opponent allegedly did not satisfy the City’s residency requirement. The County successfully opposed the application. The Court held that the application was barred by the doctrine of latches since the plaintiff could have challenged his opponent’s affidavit before the primary election, or between the primary and general election before ballots were printed. In addition, the City Council had already determined not to seat the election winner and to schedule a special election, which mooted the plaintiff’s request for relief.
2017 WL 5615821 (Mich Ct App, Nov. 21, 2107). Governmental immunity protects communities from being sued for their day-to-day work. But what if they receive money for a function that looks like a business? In this case, plaintiff sought damages alleging that she fractured her ankle exiting a waterslide at a Family Aquatic Center located in a Metropolitan park operated by the Huron Clinton Metropolitan Authority (HCMA). To avoid the HCMA’s governmental immunity from tort claims, plaintiff alleged that the HCMA operated the Aquatic Center as a self-contained and self-functioning, for-profit waterpark under the proprietary function exception to governmental immunity. The circuit court denied the HCMA’s motion for summary disposition. RSJA filed an appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals and obtained a decision reversing the circuit court judgment and securing the dismissal of all claims against the HCMA.
697 Fed. Appx. 445 (6th Cir 2017). Plaintiff brought a purported class action, raising constitutional and statutory challenges to defendants’ authority to collect delinquent property taxes through tax foreclosure sales under the Michigan General Property Tax Act. RSJA succeeded in securing favorable district court and appellate court judgments on behalf of two municipal clients and their officials.
Plaintiffs sued the City of Walled Lake and its City Manager alleging defamation. The circuit court granted summary disposition but denied absolute immunity to the City Manager, finding his role to be administrative rather than executive in nature. The Court of Appeals affirmed summary disposition to the City and, on the City Manager’s cross-appeal, held that he was entitled to absolute statutory immunity as the City’s highest appointed executive official. Absolute immunity was not reserved solely for the Mayor as the elected executive official.