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Satchel v. Dayton Township

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

October 24, 2016

James Satchel, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Dayton Township, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION & ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT HORSCH'S MOTION TO DISMISS AND GRANTING, IN PART, HIS MOTION FOR RULE 11 SANCTIONS

          SEAN F. COX, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         Acting through Counsel, Plaintiffs filed this action asserting numerous counts against nine different Defendants. The matter is currently before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss, and a Rule 11 Motion for Sanctions, filed by Defendant Richard Horsch. This Court cancelled oral argument on the motions after Plaintiffs failed to file any response to the motions - even after this Court issued an Order to Show Cause directing them to do so. As explained below, the Court shall GRANT the Motion to Dismiss because the Court agrees with Defendant Horsch that Plaintiffs' Complaint fails to state any claim against him. In addition, the Court shall grant Defendant Horsch's Motion for Rule 11 Sanctions, to the extent that the Court agrees that a sanction against Plaintiffs' Counsel, jointly and severally with his law firm, is warranted. In order to determine the appropriate amount of the sanction, the Court shall order Defendant Horsch to submit an itemized statement of the attorney fees he has incurred in this action, along with a supporting affidavit from his Counsel.

         BACKGROUND

         Acting through Counsel, attorney Brian Garner[1], Plaintiffs James Satchel, Robert Adams, and Rod Merten (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) filed this action on April 27, 2016. Plaintiffs' Complaint asserts claims against the following nine Defendants: 1) Dayton Township; 2) Robert Cook; 3) Robert Steele; 4) Michael Mocniak; 5) Stacy Phillips; 6) Eleanor Kilmer; 7) Amanda Gusek; 8) Chris Gusek; and 9) Richard Horsch (“Horsch”).

         Plaintiffs' Complaint include twelve separate counts. Because the matter is before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss and a Motion for Sanctions that were brought by Defendant Horsch alone, the Court includes here the counts that are asserted against Horsch. Those counts are:

“Count I: 42 U.S.C. § 1983 - Retaliation for Exercising First Amendment Right of Free Speech in the Right to Vote and Hold Political Office as Applied Through the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment” (Compl. at 26-28)
“Count II: 42 U.S.C. § 1985 - Conspiracy to Retaliate Against Plaintiffs for Exercising First Amendment Right of Free Speech in the Right to Vote and Hold Political Office as Applied Through the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment” (Compl. at 28-29).
“Count IV: 42 U.S.C. § 1983 - Racial Discrimination Against Plaintiffs' Right to Vote and Hold Political Office as Applied Through the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment” (Compl. at 30-31).
“Count V: 42 U.S.C. § 1985 - Conspiracy to Commit Racial Discrimination Against Plaintiffs' Right to Vote and Hold Political Office as Applied Through the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment” (Compl. at 31)
“Count VII: MCL 750.147b - Ethnic Intimidation” (Compl. at 32-33)
“Count VIII: Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress” (Compl. at 33-34)
“Count IX: Exemplary Damages Claim” (Compl. at 34-37)
“Count X: 42 U.S.C. § 1983 - Violation of Plaintiff's Rights Under the Michigan Constitution” (Compl. at 37-38)
“Count XI: 42 U.S.C. § 1983 - Conspiracy to Violate Plaintiffs Rights Under the Michigan Constitution” (Compl. at 39)

         Plaintiffs' Complaint is forty-one pages long and includes one hundred and eighty four paragraphs.

         Plaintiffs' Complaint identifies Horsch as a “resident of Dayton Township, Tuscola County, Michigan.” (Compl. at ¶ 18). The only factual allegations as to Horsch are as follows:

93. . . . .
B. The Board allowed Richard Horsch, a resident, to give a five (5) minute presentation, which is more than the normal amount allotted for public comment, where Horsch claimed Mr. Satchel didn't treat another resident, Joe Peet, fairly.
C. Horsch also claims he had contacted the Tuscola County Building Code Department regarding the legality of how the Peet property issue had been handled and that he was assured everything was done properly, contrary to Mr. Satchel's previous assertions.
95. Also on February 9, 2015, which Plaintiffs' believed to be at the urging of Cook, Horsch filed a proposed recall petition with the Tuscola County Clerk against Mr. Satchel based upon the Board's Censure alleging he “repeatedly abused his board position by assuming zoning enforcement authority . . . by attempting to bully and intimidate residents . . .”
97. . . . .[O]n February 27, 2015, Horsch, filed a second proposed recall petition with the Tuscola County Clerk against Mr. Satchel, based upon “the Dayton Township Board unanimously voted to Censure Trustee Satchel.”

(Compl. at 18-19) (emphasis in original).

         Plaintiff's Complaint was filed on April 27, 2016. This case was originally assigned to the Honorable Thomas Luddington.

         Horsch's Counsel entered an appearance on May 25, 2016. On June 2, 2016, Horsch filed a Motion to Dismiss, asking this Court to dismiss all claims asserted against him with prejudice. (Docket Entry No. 14).

         On June 28, 2016, Horsch filed a “Rule 11 Motion for Sanctions” (Docket Entry No. 20) wherein he requested that the Court impose Rule 11 sanctions against both Plaintiff Satchel and his Counsel. On June 3, 2016 - more than 21 days prior to filing ...


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