Posted by: Patricia Salkin | June 16, 2017

Fed. Dist. Court in MI Denies Motion for Reconsideration of Claims Arising from Animated Billboard and Gun Range

Plaintiff Mark P. Donaldson filed suit in Roscommon County Circuit Court against Defendants Au Sable Township, Joe Meadows, and Mark Smith. Donaldson’s initial complaint brought eleven state law claims related to violations of the Michigan Freedom of Information Act. These claims arose from an animated billboard which had been placed next to the road Donaldson used to access his home. Don contends that the billboard and nearby firearms range were in violation of local zoning ordinances. When he brought the noncompliance to the attention of the local zoning board, they refused to act. Magistrate Judge Patricia T. Morris issued a report recommending that Defendants’ second motion to dismiss be granted, Donaldson’s federal constitutional claims be dismissed with prejudice, his state law claims be dismissed without prejudice, and that all his other pending motions be denied as moot. The court adopted the report and recommendation in part, dismissed Donaldson’s federal claims, and remanded the state claims. Donaldson then filed a motion for reconsideration.
Donaldson argued that the Court’s analysis of his federal claims was erroneous, because the court for failed to take all of his pleaded facts as true. The court rejected this contention, finding Donaldson’s alleged injuries did not give rise to cognizable federal claims. In his motion for reconsideration, Donaldson only referenced the “Michigan constitution and statutes including MCL 125.3815(9) and MCL 125.3601(9)” as the basis of the alleged conflicts of interest. Furthermore, while Donaldson also challenged the court’s denial of his motion to file another amended complaint, the court concluded that jurisdiction would not exist even under the new allegations in the third amended complaint. Accordingly, the court held it would have been futile to allow the amendment.
Finally, as to Donaldson’s due process claim, the court held that while property owners have a right to access their property from the public highways, they are only entitled to “convenient and reasonable access.” Thus, the court concluded that a “distracting billboard” did not deny Donaldson “convenient and reasonable access” to his home. Accordingly, plaintiff Donaldson’s motion for reconsideration was denied, and all state law claims were remanded to state court.
Donaldson v Ausable Township, 2017 WL 2351739 (ED MI 5/31/2017)

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