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LLC v. Charter Township of Oscoda

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division

October 4, 2016

RANDY'S TOWING, LLC, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
CHARTER TOWNSHIP OF OSCODA, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING MOTION TO AMEND/CORRECT JUDGMENT

          THOMAS L. LUDINGTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiffs initiated the above-captioned action on March 7, 2016, stating both federal and state law claims against Defendant Charter Township of Oscoda (“Oscoda”). See Compl., ECF No. 1. Pursuant to a motion to dismiss filed by Defendant on May 12, 2016, Plaintiffs' federal claims were dismissed for failure to comply with the relevant statute of limitations and Plaintiffs' state law claims were dismissed without prejudice to their ability to refile the claims in state court. See ECF No. 15. Judgment was entered against Plaintiffs. See ECF No. 16.

         On September 9, 2016 Plaintiffs filed a motion to amend or correct the judgment. See ECF No. 17. For the reasons stated below, Plaintiffs' motion will be denied.

         I.

         Plaintiffs' action arose out of a dispute between Plaintiffs and Defendant Oscoda regarding Plaintiffs' towing, excavating, and recycling businesses. Following a quarrel over whether Boden could place a gate across a certain roadway, Defendant Oscoda brought a lawsuit against Plaintiff Randy Boden in the Twenty-Third Circuit Court on May 29, 2012. Thereafter, on August 13, 2012 Randy Boden, at the time d/b/a/ Randy's Towing, was removed by Iosco County from its non-preference wrecker call list. As a result, on December 23, 2012 Boden initiated an action against Oscoda, among others, alleging violations of their right to petition government under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and the Michigan Constitution. See Randy's Towing et al. v. Oscoda Township, et al., Case No. 12-cv-15638 (E. D. Mich., Dec. 23, 2012). On April 18, 2013 the parties stipulated to the dismissal of the case with prejudice. Id. at ECF No. 14. The case was accordingly dismissed with prejudice. Id. at ECF No. 15.

         Although the parties' Joint Release and Settlement Agreement contains confidentiality provisions, on June 12, 2013 the Oscoda Press allegedly ran an article disclosing the terms of the agreement pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request. See Compl. ¶¶69-72, ECF No. 1. Oscoda Township Supervisor Jim Baier then allegedly provided comments to the newspaper in breach of the Settlement Agreement's confidentiality provisions. Id. at 73-76. Specifically, Mr. Baier stated the following: (1) that there had been issues with a family group involving a costly legal battle over blight; (2) that Oscoda Township should end the County's use of the family's wrecker services; and (3) that he had previously wanted Randy's Towing off the call rotation list due to alleged threatening statements made by the family to township employees and not because of the civil litigation. See Compl. ¶ 102.

         After failing to resolve the alleged breach of the settlement agreement, Plaintiffs Randy's Towing, LLC, Randy Boden, Thomas Vincent Boden, Emilie Mae Boden, and Melissa Ludena initiated the present action against Defendant Oscoda on March 7, 2016, alleging breach of the Settlement Agreement. Id. Count 1. Plaintiffs also allege counts related to the allegedly discriminatory conduct underlying the previous lawsuit, claiming that they are a class of one under the Equal Protection Clause and that Defendants have violated their rights under the United States Constitution and the Michigan Constitution. Id. Counts II-III. Plaintiffs also allege a claim of vindictive prosecution. Count IV.

         In response, on May 12, 2016, Defendant Oscoda filed a motion to dismiss counts II-IV of Plaintiffs' complaint for failure to state claims upon which relief could be granted. See Def.'s Mot. Dismiss, ECF No. 5. In part, Defendant argued that Plaintiffs' claims did not satisfy the relevant statute of limitations. The Court agreed. Noting that Plaintiffs did not dispute Defendant's contentions that a three-year statute of limitations to Plaintiffs' federal equal protection claims, and noting that the events giving rise to Plaintiffs' federal claims took place no later than 2012, the Court found that Plaintiff had not complied with the relevant statute of limitations. The Court also found that equitable tolling did not apply.

         II.

         On September 9, 2016 Plaintiffs moved for relief from judgment pursuant to Federal rules of civil procedure 59(e) and 60(b)(6). Plaintiffs argue that the Court erred in finding that the last events giving rise to their federal claims occurred in 2012, arguing for the first time that the last relevant event occurred on June 12, 2013 when the Oscoda Press released the article disclosing the terms of the settlement agreement and featuring the comments of Mr. Baier.

         A.

         Plaintiffs request that the Court alter or amend the judgment under Rule 59(e). “[T]he purpose of Rule 59 is to allow the district court to correct its own errors, sparing the parties and appellate courts the burden of unnecessary appellate proceedings.” York v. Tate, 858 F.2d 322, 326 (6th Cir. 1988). The grounds for amending a judgment are limited. “A district court may grant a Rule 59(e) motion only to (1) correct a clear error of law, (2) account for newly discovered evidence, (3) accommodate an intervening change in the controlling law, or (4) otherwise prevent manifest injustice.” Moore v. Coffee Cty., TN, 402 F. App'x. 107, 108 (6th Cir. 2010).

         Plaintiffs also move for relief from judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b). Rule 60(b) allows the Court to relieve a party from a final judgment or order for several reasons, including “(1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) newly discovered evidence . . .; (3) fraud . . ., misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party; (4) the judgment is void; [and] (5) the judgment has been satisfied, released or discharged; it is based on an earlier judgment that has been reversed or vacated; or applying it prospectively is no longer equitable.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b). In addition, subsection (b)(6) grants relief if there are “exceptional and extraordinary circumstances.” Fuller v. Quire, 916 F.2d 358, 360 (6th Cir. 1990).

         Plaintiffs argue that the Court's application of the statute of limitations was a clear error. In support of this argument, Plaintiffs argue that “Plaintiffs' complaint clearly states that Mr. Baier's actions on June 12, 2013 were part of the events giving rise to the federal claims of the Complaint.” Plaintiffs do not cite any portion of their response to Defendant's motion to dismiss that raises this argument or identifies the June 12, 2013 date as a relevant date for calculating the statute of limitations for their federal claims. That is because Plaintiffs did not raise the argument. Instead, in their response Plaintiffs argued only that equitable tolling should apply. See Pl.'s Resp. ...


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