United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING ANN ARBOR'S MOTION TO
STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III United States District Judge
are residents of Ann Arbor affected by a city ordinance
regulating residential drainage and sewage systems. They
allege that the implementation and enforcement of the
ordinance violates, inter alia, their rights under the Fifth
Amendment. Before the Court is Ann Arbor's motion to
dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
After reviewing the briefs, the Court finds that a hearing is
unnecessary. E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(f). For the reasons set forth
below, the Court will grant the motion.
bouts of heavy rainfall, Ann Arbor's sanitary-sewer
system kept overflowing. ECF 6, PgID 150. To remedy the
issue, Ann Arbor passed an ordinance requiring some citizens
to connect their drainage systems to Ann Arbor's
storm-sewer system instead of the sanitary-sewer system.
Id. In some cases, this change required installation
of sump pits, sump pumps, and related equipment. Id.
Plaintiffs believed the ordinance violated their rights, so
they filed lawsuits in Michigan courts alleging violations of
Michigan's Takings Clause. ECF 6-5, 6-6, 6-7. Ann Arbor
removed one of the cases to federal court. Yu v. City of
Ann Arbor, Case No. 2:14-cv-11129, ECF 1. But the
plaintiffs filed a motion to remand, which the Court granted.
Id., ECF 7, 12. After the remand, the Michigan trial
courts dismissed the lawsuits with prejudice; Plaintiffs then
appealed. ECF 6-2. The Michigan Court of Appeals consolidated
the appeals, heard the case, and affirmed the dismissals.
Id. Plaintiffs then filed the present suit in
federal court seeking relief under the federal Takings
Court may grant a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss if the
complaint fails to allege facts "sufficient 'to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level, '
and to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'" Hensley Mfg. v. ProPride, Inc., 579
F.3d 603, 609 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007)). The Court views
the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff,
presumes the truth of all well-pled factual assertions, and
draws every reasonable inference in favor of the non-moving
party. Bassett v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic
Ass'n, 528 F.3d 426, 430 (6th Cir. 2008). If "a
cause of action fails as a matter of law, regardless of
whether the plaintiff's factual allegations are true or
not, " then the Court must dismiss. Winnett v.
Caterpillar, Inc., 553 F.3d 1000, 1005 (6th Cir. 2009).
allege five "causes of action": (1) violations of
the Fifth Amendment; (2) 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims for
violations of the Fifth Amendment and the "right to be
free from mandatory work"; (3) injunctive relief; (4)
declaratory relief; and (5) attorney's fees. ECF 1. The
complaint confuses the important differences between
substantive rights, causes of action, and remedies. Even
forgiving that technical imprecision, however, Plaintiffs
fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted
because their action is barred by res judicata. The Court
will therefore dismiss the case.
res judicata principles govern the relationship between
separate lawsuits about the same subject matter. 18 Charles
Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and
Procedure § 4401 (3d ed. 2017). The concept governs two
subtly different scenarios: (1) the litigation of matters
that have been previously litigated and decided; and (2) the
litigation of matters that have not been previously litigated
but should have been raised in an earlier lawsuit. The first
scenario is known as issue preclusion, the second is known as
claim preclusion. Id. at § 4402. Under the
doctrines, if certain conditions are met, then a plaintiff is
barred from litigating particular issues or claims. The
principles serve the dual purpose of protecting litigants
from the burden of relitigating issues and promoting judicial
economy. Parklane Hosiery Co., Inc. v. Shore, 439
U.S. 322, 326 (1979). For the reasons set forth below, the
Court finds that the decision in Yu v. City of Ann
Arbor bars litigation of the issues presented here. No.
331501, 2017 WL 1927846, at *1 (Mich. Ct. App. May 9, 2017).
Applicability of Res Judicata
preliminary matter, the Court finds that res judicata
applies. Plaintiffs contend that, pursuant to Williamson
Cty. Reg'l Planning Comm'n v. Hamilton Bank of
Johnson City, 473 U.S. 172 (1985), they were required to
litigate their Takings Clause claims in state court before
proceeding in federal court. And because of that
"requirement, " Plaintiffs contend that they
properly proceeded in state court while preserving their
federal claims in accord with England v. Louisiana State
Bd. of Med. Examiners, 375 U.S. 411 (1964).
Plaintiffs' argument is unpersuasive for several reasons.
Plaintiffs overstate the exhaustion requirement. Exhaustion
of Takings-Clause claims is not a mandatory jurisdictional
requirement but rather a waivable defense. Stop the Beach
Renourishment, Inc. v. Florida Dep't of Envtl.
Prot., 560 U.S. 702, 729 (2010); Lilly Investments
v. City of Rochester, 674 Fed.Appx. 523, 531 (6th Cir.
2017). So when Ann Arbor removed the original state case to
federal court, Plaintiffs did not need to litigate in state
court to exhaust their Takings Clause remedies.
Plaintiffs' "reservations of rights" is
inoperative. Congress has ordered that state judicial
proceedings shall have "full faith and credit in every
court within the United States[.]" 28 U.S.C. §
1738. And the Supreme Court has made clear that federal
courts "are not free to disregard 28 U.S.C. § 1738
simply to guarantee that all takings plaintiffs can have
their day in federal court." San Remo Hotel, L.P. v.
City & Cty. of San Francisco, Cal., 545 U.S. 323,
338 (2005). Consequently, an England reservation
does not grant a plaintiff a "second bite at the
apple" when, as here, a plaintiff already sought state
review of the same substantive issue. Id. 346. As
Justice Thomas later clarified, San Remo Hotel
"dooms" a plaintiff's ability to seek review of
federal claims in ...