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Unpublished decision per curiam of the Court of Appeals, issued November 4, 2014 (Docket No. 315403), leave denied, 498 Mich. 865 (2015); Vermilya v Delta College Board of Trustees, unpublished decision per curiam of the Court of Appeals, June 15, 2017 (Docket No. 331958).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2016 WL 1533562 (Mich App 2016 unpublished).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Unpublished decision per curiam of the Court of Appeals, issued November 22, 2016 (Docket No. 327838), leave denied, 500 Mich 1060 (2017).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.
2017 WL 5615821 (Mich Ct App, Nov. 21, 2107) (Wayne County Circuit Court Case No. 15-008243-NO). 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 a woman broke her leg while riding a water slide at a park operated by the Huron Clinton Metropolitan Authority (HCMA). Plaintiff claimed that HCMA was negligent in constructing and maintaining the waterslide which led to her injury. While this type of claim would normally be barred by governmental immunity, she said that the proprietary function exception to immunity applied to allow her lawsuit. The trial court denied RSJA’s motion for summary disposition, finding there were material issues of fact regarding whether the operation of the water park was conducted primarily for the purpose of producing a profit for the HCMA. The court of appeals reversed the trial court’s finding, holding that, despite the fact that the HCMA generated income from admissions, parking and food sales, plaintiff could not demonstrate that the park was operated for the primary purpose of producing a profit.