United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION & ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' EMERGENCY
MOTION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS AND DECLARATORY JUDGMENT (DKT.
A. GOLDSMITH, United States District Judge
August 21, 2017, Plaintiffs John Lauve and Robert Davis
(“Plaintiffs”) filed an emergency motion,
requesting a writ of mandamus and declaratory judgment on
Counts VI and VII of their complaint. See Pls. Emer.
Mot. at 1 (Dkt. 5). Oral argument on the emergency motion was
heard on August 31, 2017. Following the hearing, Plaintiffs
filed an emergency motion for leave to file a supplemental
brief (Dkt. 14). Plaintiffs' motion was granted, and both
parties submitted supplemental briefs.
reasons that follow, the Court denies Plaintiffs'
emergency motion for mandamus and declaratory
Lauve and Davis are registered and qualified electors of the
cities of Holly and Highland Park, Michigan, respectively.
Compl. ¶¶ 12-13 (Dkt. 1). Plaintiffs circulated
referendum petitions to repeal Detroit City Ordinance No.
19-17 (the “Ordinance”) which, as Plaintiffs
describe, “approved the amendments made to the Detroit
Downtown Development Authority's tax increment financing
and development plan for the new Little Caesars Arena.”
Pls. Br. in Supp. of Emer. Mot. at 4-5 (Dkt. 5). The
Ordinance went into effect on July 5, 2017. Compl. ¶
Per Article 12 of the 2012 Detroit City Charter (the
“Charter”), when an ordinance is given immediate
effect, “[a] referendum petition must be filed with the
City Clerk . . . within thirty (30) days after its effective
date.” Charter, § 12-103 (Pls. Emer. Mot., Ex. 3
(Dkt. 6-3)). The Charter also provides that referendum
petitions “must be signed by voters of the City, not
less in number than three percent (3%) of all votes case for
the office of Mayor at the preceding regular city general
election”; that is, 4, 054 signatures. Id.
§ 12-102. Once a referendum on an ordinance has been
invoked, “the effect of the ordinance shall be delayed
or suspended until the City Clerk has made a final report
that the referendum petitions are insufficient or, if the
referendum petitions are sufficient, until the voters of the
City have expressed their support for the ordinance in the
referendum election.” Id. § 12-106.
August 4, 2017, Plaintiffs went to the office of the Detroit
City Clerk, Defendant Janice Winfrey, and presented
referendum petitions, which contained 362 signatures. Compl.
¶ 20. The City Clerk's office accepted the
referendum petitions. Id. ¶ 21. The following
day, Lauve received a letter from Defendant Daniel Baxter,
the Director of Elections for the City of Detroit Election
Commission, advising him that his petitions were invalid on
their face, and, as a result, the City Clerk's office
would not accept them. Id. ¶ 22. Plaintiffs
returned to the City Clerk's office on August 18, 2017
with additional referendum petitions containing 7, 927
signatures. Id. ¶ 33. Baxter then sent Lauve
another letter stating that the additional referendum
petitions were rejected as untimely. Id. ¶ 38.
filed the instant action against Winfrey, Baxter, and the
Detroit City Council (collectively, “Defendants”)
on August 20, 2017, requesting (i) a declaratory judgment
that Winfrey and Baxter violated Plaintiffs' right to
procedural due process by rejecting the referendum petitions;
(ii) a declaratory judgment that Defendants violated
Plaintiffs' right to procedural due process by failing to
suspend the Ordinance; (iii) a declaratory judgment that
Winfrey and Baxter violated Plaintiffs' rights to equal
protection; (iv) attorney fees and costs; (v) compensatory,
punitive, and nominal damages against Defendants; (vi) a writ
of mandamus compelling Winfrey to canvass the
timely-submitted referendum petitions; and (vii) a
declaratory judgment that the Ordinance is suspended until
Winfrey makes a final report regarding the sufficiency of
Plaintiffs' referendum petitions. Compl. ¶¶
2-8. The instant motion seeks relief with respect to Counts
VI and VII only.
Plaintiffs' Motion is Procedurally Improper
Plaintiffs stress that it is “urgent” that the
Court “grant expedited consideration” of their
motion, Plaintiffs have not styled their request as one for a
preliminary injunction or a temporary restraining order. Pls.
Br. at 4. Doing so would have provided this Court with a
framework for evaluating the motion. See Sandison v.
Mich. High Sch. Athletic Ass'n, Inc., 64 F.3d 1026,
1030 (6th Cir. 1995) (decision whether to issue a preliminary
injection turns on four traditional factors of irreparable
harm, likelihood of success, balance of harms, and public
interest). Plaintiffs did not address the traditional factors
for equitable relief, demonstrating that Plaintiffs have not
invoked the equitable process. Nor have Plaintiffs framed
their emergency request as a motion for summary judgment,
such that this Court could determine “whether the
evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require
submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one
party must prevail as a matter of law.” Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-252 (1986).
Plaintiffs have not properly denominated their motion, the
Court will not hazard a guess as to how it should be
characterized. See, e.g., Syl Worhacz
Ford, Inc. v. Ford Dealer Computer Servs., Inc., No.
06-50546, 2007 WL 2109564, at *2 (E. D. Mich. July 23, 2007)
(denying motion for reconsideration where plaintiff argued
that the court should have applied a different standard to
its claim, because “Plaintiff did not cite this
standard or the requisite elements of [the] claim in its
seven page motion . . . It is not the duty of this Court to
make arguments for a party.”). The motion can be denied
on this basis alone.
Plaintiffs Have Not Shown Entitlement to Relief
Writ of Mandamus
defects aside, Plaintiffs have not shown that relief is
warranted. A writ of mandamus is an extraordinary remedy that
will only be issued where the party seeking the writ has a
clear legal right to the performance of the specific duty
sought; the defendant has the clear legal duty to perform the
act requested; the act is ministerial; and no other remedy
exists which might achieve the same result. Coalition for
a Safer Detroit v. Detroit City ...