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04/06/76 KAMINSKAS v. CITY DETROIT

April 6, 1976

KAMINSKAS
v.
CITY OF DETROIT



Appeal from Wayne, Horace W. Gilmore, J.

Leave to appeal applied for.

V. J. Brennan, P. J., and R. M. Maher and G. W. Britten,* JJ.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. Action -- Municipal Taxpayers' Suit -- Pleading -- Sufficiency of Allegations.

A municipal taxpayers' suit is a judicially sanctioned action whereby municipal taxpayers are allowed to challenge unlawful municipal acts that injure the plaintiffs as taxpayers through increased taxation and the consequences thereof; as a minimum, a clear statement of present or prospective damages to taxpayers is required, and a mere allegation of "harm and detriment to the taxpayer" without a description of the harm is insufficient to maintain an action against a city as a municipal taxpayers' suit.

2. Parties -- Standing -- Pleading -- Allegations of Harm.

An individual plaintiff and plaintiff employees' associations lack standing to sue a city for wrongfully employing provisional employees where the individual plaintiff makes no allegations that she has been wrongfully denied employment by the hiring of the provisional employees, and the associations make no allegations that they are authorized to represent anyone who has been injured by the provisional hirings.

3. Municipal Corporations -- City charters -- Parties -- Illegal Expenditure of Funds -- Standing -- Statutes.

A section of the Detroit City Charter which allows "any person" to challenge an illegal expenditure of funds cannot be interpreted to mean that any person whatsoever may sue, but is restricted by the traditional legal doctrines of standing, capacity, and real party in interest; a city charter cannot have a provision that conflicts with or contravenes any general law of the state (MCLA 117.36; MSA 5.2116; Detroit Charter, Art 6, ch 5, § 6-515).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Per Curiam

Complaint by Carol Kaminskas, the General Accountants, Analysts and Appraisers Association, and the Senior Accountants, Analysts and Appraisers Association against the City of Detroit, Detroit Mayor Coleman Young, the Detroit Civil Service Commission, and the Detroit City Council for a declaratory judgment that the city charter had been violated by the hiring of provisional employees and for an injunction against further violations of the charter. Summary judgment for defendants. Plaintiffs appeal.

Plaintiff Kaminskas, a taxpayer of the City of Detroit, and plaintiff associations, unions allegedly representing city employees who are residents, taxpayers and voters in the City of Detroit, filed a complaint against the City of Detroit, the Detroit Civil Service Commission, the Mayor of Detroit, and the Detroit City Council in the Wayne County Circuit Court. The court granted defendants' motion for summary judgment, holding that plaintiffs had alleged no personal harm and hence had no standing to sue. Plaintiffs appeal this decision as of right. We affirm.

The complaint sought a declaratory judgment that the city charter had been violated by the hiring of provisional employees and also sought an injunction against further violations of the charter. The plaintiffs claimed that the Civil Service Commission had authorized the hiring of provisional employees contrary to the civil service examination system mandated by the charter. The complaint alleged "harm and detriment of the employees who could seek advancement and the voting taxpayer who has a right to expect compliance with the charter and the opportunity for employment". In short, damage to present and prospective employees and voting taxpayers was very generally pleaded. We must decide if present plaintiffs are the proper plaintiffs to advance these general claims and to contest the actions of defendants.

The action cannot be maintained as a taxpayers' suit. The action is clearly not a taxpayers' suit under GCR 1963, 201.2, MCLA 600.2041(3); MSA 27A.2041(3), for there is no mention at all of the expenditure of state funds. Nor is the action a municipal taxpayers' suit. A municipal taxpayers' suit does not arise out of any specific statutory or court rule grant of standing to sue, but is a judicially sanctioned action whereby municipal taxpayers are allowed to challenge unlawful municipal acts that injure the plaintiffs as ...


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