United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division
JAMES BENJAMIN, as Trustee of the REBEKAH C BENJAMIN TRUST, Plaintiff,
JOHN STEMPLE AND JANET SANTOS, in their official and individual capacities, Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO INTERVENE, DENYING MOTION
FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION, GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS, AND
DISMISSING AMENDED COMPLAINT
L. LUDINGTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
March 14, 2018, Plaintiff James Benjamin, trustee for the
Rebekah C. Benjamin Trust, filed suit against Defendant John
Stemple and Janet Santos, employees of the City of Saginaw.
ECF No. 1. In the suit, Benjamin alleges that the City of
Saginaw requires owners of “vacant, but maintained,
properties to ‘register' their property in order to
obtain licensing compliance.” Benjamin contends that,
as part of that registration, the City requires property
owners to consent to the City entering the properties if they
become dangerous. Benjamin argues that this registration form
violates the doctrine of unconstitutional conditions. On May
15, 2018, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss. ECF No. 9.
Two days later, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint. ECF No.
10. Defendants promptly moved to dismiss, and a hearing on
that motion has been scheduled for September 11, 2018, at
4:00 p.m. ECF No. 13.
11, 2018, Benjamin filed a motion for a preliminary
injunction. Mot. Prelim. Inj., ECF No. 16. Because Benjamin
was seeking the injunction to prevent an injury which he did
not share with the putative class, the motion was denied for
lack of standing. ECF No. 18. The next day, two putative
class members filed a motion to intervene (with assistance of
Benjamin's counsel) and a second motion for a preliminary
injunction. As before, the intervenors request judicial
action by June 22, 2018.
amended complaint challenges the City of Saginaw's
practice of requiring “owners of vacant, but
maintained, properties to ‘register' their property
in order to obtain licensing compliance as to their vacant
houses and also to allow the City ‘maintain a registry
of all unoccupied properties.'” Am. Compl. at
PageID.106. In particular, Benjamin is challenging the
City's decision to allegedly require that “property
owners and controllers surrender their Fourth Amendment
constitutional protections against warrantless entry into the
private homes and private properties for administrative
inspections, ” as “a condition of fulfilling that
legal licensing compliance and obtaining a
license/authorization to have vacant property in the City of
Saginaw.” Id. at PageID.106-07. The
registration form at issue “contains non-optional
language which mandates that the owner agrees ‘that in
the event my property becomes dangerous as defined by the
City of Saginaw Dangerous Building Ordinance, State Law, or
the City of Saginaw Housing Code, I give permission for the
City, its agents, employees, or representatives, to enter and
board the premises or do whatever necessary to make the
property secure and safe.'” Id. at
alleges that “[o]n January 11, 2018, Defendant JOHN
STEMPLE issued two municipal citations (i.e. tickets) on
Plaintiff TRUST.” Id. at PageID.113. Plaintiff
further alleges that “[a]t the time of filing,
Defendant JOHN STEMPLE . . . is actively seeking to impose
penalties on Plaintiff TRUST and Class members for not
waiving the Fourth Amendment rights of Plaintiff TRUST and
Class members.” Id. at PageID.115. The amended
complaint cites to Exhibits C and D in support of that
allegation. Those exhibits are composed of two “Uniform
Municipal Civil Infraction Citation[s]” issued to
Benjamin for “Failure to register vacant
dwelling[s].” Citations, ECF No. 10, Exs. C, D.
Exhibits F and G of the amended complaint indicate that
hearings on the citations were scheduled for March 22, 2018.
ECF No. 10, Exs. F, G.
second motion for a preliminary injunction, the intervenors
allege that they have been subject to similar enforcement
proceedings. They contend: “After refusing to waive
their constitutional rights (which is not at all require
[sic] or directed by the [Unsupervised Properties Ordinance])
Defendant John Stemple issued Proposed Intervening Plaintiffs
as Trustees, Plaintiff Benjamin as Trustee, and other class
members civil infraction tickets and sought judicial
enforcement.” Inter. Mot. Prelim. Inj. at PageID.300,
ECF No. 20. Exhibit 1 to the motion for a preliminary
injunction is a notice of a hearing issued to the Jones
Family Trust/Bobby Jones. Jones Notice, ECF No. 20, Ex. 1.
The hearing on the citation is currently set for June 22,
2018. The intervenors request that the Court resolve the
motion for a preliminary injunction before that date by
entering an order enjoining Stemple from initiating these
enforcement actions against the intervenors and all putative
to intervene are governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
24(a). That Rule specifies that “[o]n a timely motion,
the court must permit anyone to intervene who: . . . claims
an interest relating to the property or transaction that is
the subject of the action, and is so situated that disposing
of the action may as a practical matter impair or impede the
movant's ability to protect its interest, unless existing
parties adequately represent that interest.”
Id. at Rule 24(a)(2). The Sixth Circuit has derived
fourth elements from the rule: “(1) the motion to
intervene is timely; (2) the proposed intervenor has a
substantial legal interest in the subject matter of the case;
(3) the proposed intervenor's ability to protect their
interest may be impaired in the absence of intervention; and
(4) the parties already before the court cannot adequately
protect the proposed intervenor's interest.”
Coal. to Defend Affirmative Action v. Granholm, 501
F.3d 775, 779 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing Grutter v.
Bollinger, 188 F.3d 394, 397-98 (6th Cir.1999)).
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65(a), the “court
may issue a preliminary injunction only on notice to the
adverse party.” The Sixth Circuit has interpreted that
requirement as implying “‘a hearing in which the
defendant is given a fair opportunity to oppose the
application and to prepare for such opposition.'”
Certified Restoration Dry Cleaning Network, L.L.C. v.
Tenke Corp., 511 F.3d 535, 552 (6th Cir. 2007)
(quoting County Sec. Agency v. Ohio Dept. of
Commerce, 296 F.3d 477, 484 (6th Cir. 2002)). But
“a hearing is only required when there are disputed
factual issues, and not when the issues are primarily
questions of law.” Id. To summarize:
“[W]here facts are bitterly contested and credibility
determinations must be made to decide whether injunctive
relief should issue, an evidentiary hearing must be held.
[However, ] where material facts are not in dispute, or where
facts in dispute are not material to the preliminary
injunction sought, district courts generally need not hold an
Id. at 553 (quoting McDonald's Corp. v.
Robertson, 147 F.3d 1301, 1312-13 (11th Cir. 1998)).
factors govern whether the Court will issue a preliminary
injunction: (1) whether the plaintiff has demonstrated a
substantial likelihood of success on the merits; (2) whether
there is a threat of irreparable harm to the plaintiff; (3)
whether issuance of the injunction would harm others; and (4)
whether the public interest is served by granting injunctive
relief. Hamilton's Bogarts, Inc. v.
Michigan, 501 F.3d 644, 649 (6th Cir. 2007) (citation
omitted); see also Ne. Ohio Coal. For Homeless
and Serv. Emps. Intern. Union, Local 1199 v. Blackwell,
467 F.3d 999, 1009 (6th Cir. 2006). “These factors are
not prerequisites, but are factors that are to be balanced
against each other.” Overstreet v.
Lexington-Fayette Urban Cnty. Gov't, 305 F.3d 566,
573 (6th Cir. 2002) (citations omitted).
noted above, Benjamin's motion for a preliminary
injunction was denied because he lacked standing to request
the injunction on behalf of putative class members. In
response, Plaintiff's counsel has filed a motion to
intervene by putative class members who are presently subject
to ongoing enforcement efforts by Defendants. If the
intervention is permitted, these proposed intervenors would
possess standing to seek the preliminary injunction on behalf
of the putative class. See Senter v. Gen. Motors
Corp., 532 F.2d 511, 517 (6th Cir. 1976) (“[O]nce
an individual has alleged a distinct and palpable injury to
himself he has standing to challenge a practice even if the
injury is of a sort shared by a large class of possible
this dynamic, the request for a preliminary injunction can
only be properly framed for adjudication if brought by a
putative class member other than Benjamin. Absent
intervention, the putative class members will be subject to
enforcement measures until the legitimacy of the City's
practice is considered on its merits. Benjamin (and
intervenors) alleges that the enforcement proceedings are
intentional efforts to coerce putative class members into
waiving their constitutional rights. If true, that
constitutes a substantial legal interest. Benjamin's lack
of standing to request a preliminary injunction on behalf of
the class demonstrates that the intervenors' rights
cannot be adequately protected by Benjamin, and so
intervention is warranted.
the question is whether class-wide preliminary injunctive
relief is warranted. Although the intervenors' motion is
styled as a request for a preliminary injunction, they
request a decision before June 22, 2018. As indicated above,
a preliminary injunction cannot be granted without a fair
opportunity for Defendants to oppose the motion.
Certified Restoration DryCleaning Network,
L.L.C., 511 F.3d at 552. Given the expedited nature of
the intervenors' request, ...