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Shaw v. City of Riverview

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

March 8, 2017

Craig Shaw, Plaintiff,
v.
The City of Riverview, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION & ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

          Sean F. Cox United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff filed this action, asserting multiple claims against multiple Defendants. All claims against Defendant Managed Medical Review Organization, Inc. (“MMRO”) have been dismissed by Plaintiff. The matter is currently before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint brought by the remaining Defendants. The motion has been fully briefed by the parties, including supplemental briefing ordered by this Court. The Court finds that oral argument would not aid the decisional process. See Local Rule 7.1(f)(2), U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan. The Court therefore orders that the motion will be decided upon the briefs. For the reasons set forth below, the Court shall grant the motion in part and deny it in part. The Court shall grant the motion to the extent that the Court shall dismiss Counts I, II, IV, V, and VII of Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint. The motion shall be denied in all other respects, leaving Counts III and VI remaining in this action.

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On May 11, 2016, Plaintiff Craig Shaw filed this action, asserting claims against the following five Defendants: 1) the City of Riverview; 2) the City of Riverview Retirement Board of Trustees; 3) Gary Chevillet; 4) Douglas Drysdale; 5) and MMRO. Plaintiff has since dismissed all claims against MMRO.

         Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint, as of right, on July 12, 2016. (D.E. No. 20). That First Amended Complaint includes the following counts that are asserted against the City, the Board, Chevillet, and Drysdale (“the Remaining Defendants”): 1) “Count I: Declaratory Relief (Unlawful Impairment of Contract)”; 2) “Count II: Declaratory Relief (Unlawful Taking)”; 3) “Count III: Declaratory Relief (Deprivation of Property Without Due Process”; 4) “Count IV: Violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983) (As To Individual Defendants)”; 5) “Count V: Conspiracy To Violate Plaintiff's Federal Civil Rights (All Defendants)”; 6) “Count VI: Declaration of Rights (All Defendants)”; and 7) “Count VII: Writ of Mandamus.”

         The over-arching request for relief (First Am. Compl. at Pg ID 297) asked for this Court to order the following relief:

A. Assume jurisdiction of this case;
B. Enter a declaratory judgment pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201-2202 declaring that the ordinance, as applied to plaintiff, violated plaintiff's rights protected by the United States and Michigan constitutions;
C. Issue a permanent injunction barring defendants from revoking plaintiff's duty disability retirement;
D. Award plaintiff money damages to make him whole for any loss and to restore him to the position he would have been in but for the constitutional violations;
E. Enter a money judgment against Riverview, Chevillet, and Drysdale, punitive damages in the amount of $376, 092.36, plus interest, costs, attorney fees, and any other relief the Court deems just;
F. Award attorney fees and costs incurred in this action pursuant to 42 USC 1988 and/or any other provision of law; and
G. Issue such other relief as the Court deems just and equitable.

(Id.).

         The Remaining Defendants filed a motion seeking to dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint. (D.E. No. 29).

         After the parties had briefed the issues, Defense Counsel filed a supplemental brief, advising the Court that the Sixth Circuit had recently issued an opinion in a case with similar claims and issues, and asking the opportunity to submit supplemental briefing. (D.E. No. 38).

         On September 20, 2016, this Court issued an order that provided that both Plaintiff and the Remaining Defendants could file supplemental briefs, addressing Counts I, II, and III of Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint, and the Sixth Circuit's decision in Puckett v. Lexington-Fayette Urban Cty. Govt., 833 F.3d 590 (6th Cir. Aug. 15, 2016). (D.E. No. 39). Thereafter, the parties filed those supplemental briefs. (D.E. Nos. 43 and 48).

         STANDARD OF DECISION

         When ruling on a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the court must construe the complaint in a light most favorable to the plaintiff and accept all the well-pleaded factual allegations as true. Evans-Marshall v. Board of Educ., 428 F.3d 223, 228 (6th Cir. 2005). Although a heightened fact pleading of specifics is not required, the plaintiff must bring forth “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

         For purposes of this motion, the Court may consider: 1) documents referenced in, or attached to, the complaint and central to the plaintiff's claims; 2) matters of which a court may properly take notice; and 3) public documents and records. Devlin v. Kalm, 531 F. App'x 697, 703 (6th Cir. 2013); Costell v. Bank of New York Mellon, 2013 WL 317746 (E.D. Mich. 2013); Meyer v. Citimortgage, Inc., 2012 WL 511995 (E.D. Mich. 2012).

         RELEVANT FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The City of Riverview (“the City”) is a municipal corporation established pursuant to Mich. Comp. Laws § 117.1 et seq. (Pl.'s Am. Compl. at ¶ 16).

         The City of Riverview Retirement System is a retiree benefit plan available to eligible city employees that is administered and managed by a Board of Trustees (“the Board”) and governed by the City's ordinances. (Id. at ¶ 17; Exs. B & D to Defs.' Br.). At all relevant times, Defendant Gary Chevillet (“Chevillet”) has been the Chairmen of the Board and Defendant Douglas Drysdale (“Drysdale”) has been the Treasurer of the Board. (Pl.'s Am. Compl. at ¶¶ 19-20).

         Plaintiff was hired as a full-time utility worker by the City in 1992. (Id. at ¶ 25). By virtue of his employment, Plaintiff was a member of the system and was entitled to certain benefits, including retirement pension and disability benefits. (Id. at ¶ 30-31). The terms of Plaintiff's employment, including his compensation package and fringe benefits, are controlled by the local ordinances adopted by the City. (Id. at ¶ 27). At all relevant times, the City's ordinance has provided for a disability retirement in the event an eligible member becomes disabled while on duty. (Defs.' Exs. B & C, § 2-351).

         In January and February of 2009, Plaintiff sustained injury to his right shoulder during the course of his employment, which caused him to file an application with the Board for disability retirement. (Id. at ¶ 32-33).

         The version of the applicable City ordinance (§ 2-351) in effect at that time provided that “[u]pon the filing of a written application with the board by a member, or the city manager or his designee, a member who become permanently and totally incapacitated for their prescribed duty as a city employee, shall be retired by the board, if, and only if, ” certain conditions are met. (D.E. No. 29 at Pg ID 302-03). The ordinances in effect at that time also provided, in pertinent part:

         Sec. 2-359. - Conditions for disability retirants.

(a) Once each three years following the retirement of a member with a disability pension the board shall require any disability retirant, who has not attainted the age 55 years, to undergo a medical examination to be made by or under the direction of a teaching medical facility having experts in the field of claimed disability. Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, the board may accept an attending physician's certification of continued incapacitation where an on sight examination is not feasible. If the retirant refuses to submit to the medical examination (or furnish certification) in any such period the retirant's disability, pension may be discontinued by the board until the retirant's withdrawal of such refusal. . . . If upon such medical examination of a retirant, the medical facility finds that the retirant is physically able and capable of resuming employment in the job held at retirement, the retirant's pension shall terminate and the retirant shall be returned to city employment in a pay grade not lower than the pay grade held at the time of retirement. If the retirant refuses to return to city employment in such vacancy, the retirant shall be considered separated from city employment and the retirant's interest in the retirement system shall be determined by the provisions of the retirement system ordinance at that time.

(D.E. No. 29 at Pg ID 305-06) (emphasis added).

         It is undisputed that on July 1, 2010, the Board granted Plaintiff's application for a disability retirement. (Pl.'s Am. Compl. at ¶ 36).

         In December of 2015, the City amended § 2-359 to read:

Sec. 2-359. Conditions for disability retirants.
(a) Once every year following the retirement of a member with a disability pension or if circumstances warrant on a more often basis, the board shall require any disability retirant to undergo a medical examination to be made by or under the direction of the Medical Director or other Physician. The board may also require and accept an attending Physician's certification of continued ...

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